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Poll: Wyomingites Don’t Like “Forced Contracts”

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009   

Sign on the dotted line and forgo the right to take a company to court if their product causes harm or death: that's a fact of life getting attention in Washington D.C. on today's "Arbitration Fairness Day." Consumer groups are calling for an end to mandatory arbitration clauses – and unveiling a survey that shows most Wyomingites think the clauses are unfair, since they favor corporations over consumers.

Julia Duncan, associate director of federal relations with the American Association for Justice calls them "forced" clauses because they cannot be avoided.

"Just by taking a job, or buying a product or service, consumers, employees and others are forced to give up their right to take their case to court if they're harmed by a corporation."

Duncan says they want Congress to make a fairness call, since arbitration clauses benefit companies by allowing them court access while denying equal access to consumers and employees. The Arbitration Fairness Act currently before the national lawmakers would make that call.

"It's clear that negligent corporations must be held accountable, and forced arbitration is one way corporations try to evade accountability. The Arbitration Fairness Act will really end this practice."

Supporters of the arbitration clauses say they protect against frivolous lawsuits and keep consumer prices down, and they point to consumer "choice" - if people don't like the clause, they can look for another product or service. Duncan claims the clauses are being used by corporations to avoid accountability in cases of serious injuries and deaths caused by negligence.


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