Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - July 3, 2020 


Economists say coronavirus disaster declarations may be the quickest path to reopening; militia groups use virus, Independence Day to recruit followers.

2020Talks - July 3, 2020 


Trump visits South Dakota's Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore today; nearby tribal leaders object, citing concerns over COVID-19 and a fireworks display. Plus, voter registration numbers are down from this time in 2016.

Consumer Protection Advocates Take Aim at Forced Arbitration

After a New York Times exposť on a secretive corporate legal practice, consumer advocates are pushing for reforms on so-called forced arbitration.
After a New York Times exposť on a secretive corporate legal practice, consumer advocates are pushing for reforms on so-called forced arbitration.
November 4, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A New York Times investigation this week alleges that many U.S. corporations are making widespread use of a controversial legal practice known as forced arbitration.

Critics, including U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., say that when consumers sign contracts for things such as cars and cellphones, they may not be aware they're also signing a clause that essentially removes their right to take a company to court. Instead, Franken said, consumers are forced to go into private arbitration, which typically is overseen by lawyers who already work for the companies accused of wrongdoing.

"These guys are bad guys," Franken said. "Everything you've seen in The New York Times is what this is about, and it's about the right of people to go to court. It's in the Constitution."

Franken has reintroduced a bill to ban the mandatory-arbitration clauses in some contracts, and a similar bill is being considered in the House. Meanwhile, supporters of the arbitration practice say it protects companies from frivolous lawsuits.

Consumer advocates, including Julia Duncan, director of federal programs for the American Association for Justice, say forced arbitration rarely helps the average person.

"The corporation gets to pick the arbitration provider, and they get to pick all the rules of the process," she said. "So, forced arbitration is a system set up by corporations to favor corporations."

Duncan said people can fight back.

"What consumers and workers can do is demand that policymakers do something about it," she said, "and Congress ultimately should act to ban the practice of forced arbitration."

The New York Times exposé found that the majority of federal cases that went to arbitration from 2010 to 2014 favored the companies.

The text of Franken's Senate bill is online at franken.senate.gov. The House version is at govtrack.us.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN