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Surprise! The Supreme Court Just Killed the Consumer Class-Action Lawsuit

adytumadytum Registered User regular
edited May 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
http://www.latimes.com/business/sc-dc-0428-court-class-action-web-20110427,0,1239412.story
The Supreme Court gave corporations a major win Wednesday, ruling in a 5-4 decision that companies can block their disgruntled customers from joining together in a class-action lawsuit. The ruling arose from a California lawsuit involving cellphones, but it will have a nationwide impact.

In the past, consumers who bought a product or a service had been free to join a class-action lawsuit if they were dissatisfied or felt they had been cheated. By combining these small claims, they could bring a major lawsuit against a corporation.

But in Wednesday's decision, the high court said that under the Federal Arbitration Act companies can force these disgruntled customers to arbitrate their complaints individually, not as part of a group. Consumer-rights advocates said this rule would spell the end for small claims involving products or services..

Mandatory Binding Arbitration is already a part of many contracts, and will undoubtedly become even more widespread in the near future. Here's what the House Judiciary Committee has to say about Mandatory Binding Arbitration

http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/printers/110th/36018.PDF
  • Most consumers have little or no meaningful choice about submitting to arbitration; because all corporations in entire industries are adopting these clauses, people have no choice.
  • Private arbitration companies are under great pressure to devise systems that favor the corporate repeat players who draft the arbitration clauses (and thus decide which arbitration companies will receive their lucrative business)
  • There is no meaningful review of arbitrator's decisions. Under current law, arbitrators enjoy near complete freedom to ignore their own rules, the facts, and even the law in any given case, without fear that their rulings will be seriously examined by any later court - and without fear of personal or professional consequences
  • Many corporations tack on unfair provisions to their arbitration clauses that are not inherent to the idea of arbitration, but that further rig the systems against individuals. For example, some corporations impose "loser pays rules" to discourage individuals from bringing claims; that strip individuals of substantiative statutory rights; that require people to arbitrate their claims across the country

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. formed the majority.

Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan formed the dissent.

Read the ruling here.

Score one for the big guys!

adytum on
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Posts

  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    The Roberts court ruled for corporations?

    :shock:

    Lose: to suffer defeat, to misplace (Ex: "I hope I don't lose the match." "Did you lose your phone again?")
    Loose: about to slip, to release (Ex: "That knot is loose." "Loose arrows.")
  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Where's Scalia?

    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Scary part is that this, in all likelyhood, is just the warm-up act to prepare for the Dukes ruling.

    Worst. SCOTUS. Ever.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
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  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MikeMan wrote: »
    Where's Scalia?

    Missing from the article, but he obviously was part of the 5 member majority where you'd expect him.

    Lose: to suffer defeat, to misplace (Ex: "I hope I don't lose the match." "Did you lose your phone again?")
    Loose: about to slip, to release (Ex: "That knot is loose." "Loose arrows.")
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Scalia was on the majority, I don't know why the LA times didn't say that. Updated.

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  • MikeManMikeMan Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Yeah, I figured, just thought I'd point it out.

    HOW DO YOU FUCK UP BAGELS. YOU BOIL THE WATER. PUT IN THE NOODLES
  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Scary part is that this, in all likelyhood, is just the warm-up act to prepare for the Dukes ruling.

    Worst. SCOTUS. Ever.

    Hey, everybody can get their hate on for the White and Taft courts.

  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MikeMan wrote: »
    Yeah, I figured, just thought I'd point it out.

    I think it was so obvious they didn't see the need to include it.

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  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    They are not yet worse than the Taney court, who pretty much cemented the inevitability of the Civil War. The Fuller court is a strong candidate for #2.

    Lose: to suffer defeat, to misplace (Ex: "I hope I don't lose the match." "Did you lose your phone again?")
    Loose: about to slip, to release (Ex: "That knot is loose." "Loose arrows.")
  • mrflippymrflippy Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Scalia said companies like arbitration because it is efficient and less costly. "Arbitration is poorly suited to the higher stakes of class litigation," he said.

    But then he voted for it?

    Buh?

  • DivideByZeroDivideByZero Social Justice Blackguard Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    God dammit America.

    Binding Arbitration is some seriously heinous shit. Shadow judicial system with a profit motive? That's utterly opaque, internally inconsistent, and accountable to no one except the corporations whose contracts they compete for? What could go wrong!

  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Is there any way for this to ever be overturned? Is it that someone will have to bring up another case that's just slightly different or what? No double-jeopardy is what I'm getting at.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    It'll need legislated against, if it's going to go away.

    At least I think that's an option.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Scary part is that this, in all likelyhood, is just the warm-up act to prepare for the Dukes ruling.

    Worst. SCOTUS. Ever.

    Let's be fair now. The Dred Scott SCOTUS was probably the worst. So the current SCOTUS is like 2nd worse ever.

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  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    mrflippy wrote: »
    Scalia said companies like arbitration because it is efficient and less costly. "Arbitration is poorly suited to the higher stakes of class litigation," he said.

    But then he voted for it?

    Buh?

    I believe the chain of logic goes

    The individuals contracts say everything must be arbitrated

    Individual consumers want to band together for class-action lawsuit

    Scalia says the class-action lawsuit must be arbitrated instead per the contracts rather than in court, but class-action groups are too large for arbitration to handle

    Therefore, the class-action group must be broken up into individuals, who are now free to pursue mandatory binding arbitration with the company

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  • DivideByZeroDivideByZero Social Justice Blackguard Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Malkor wrote: »
    Is there any way for this to ever be overturned? Is it that someone will have to bring up another case that's just slightly different or what? No double-jeopardy is what I'm getting at.

    Well they didn't find the Federal Arbitration Act unconstitutional, they just said the FAA meant companies could toss class-actions in favor of individual arbirtration actions. So if the FAA were changed or a new federal law were passed, this decision would be irrelevant.

    I hope.

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I wonder if they could just amend the Act in question to repair this particular loophole.

    That's going to require two Democrat controlled houses, though.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

    Any gamers in the Danville, PA area? PM me if you're interested in some tabletop gaming.
  • DelzhandDelzhand motivated battle programmerRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    So is there any alternative to binding arbitration? I mean, when I last went apartment hunting, every single contract had an arbitration clause in it. It's not like I could refuse to patronize a property owner and take my business elsewhere, so it's basically a de-facto adherence contract.

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  • DracomicronDracomicron Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm getting pretty goddamn tired of all the activist judges on the Supreme Court.

    Gary Gygax wrote:
    ''The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules.''
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Delzhand wrote: »
    So is there any alternative to binding arbitration? I mean, when I last went apartment hunting, every single contract had an arbitration clause in it. It's not like I could refuse to patronize a property owner and take my business elsewhere, so it's basically a de-facto adherence contract.

    It's a defacto adherence contract.

    There are two changes that need to be made to the FAA:

    First, there should be a right to appeal an arbitration agreement.

    Second, either party to an arbitration agreement should be able to submit documents related to that agreement to a court of law despite any NDAs.

    Imma write my congressfolks.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    I'm getting pretty goddamn tired of all the activist judges on the Supreme Court.
    Yeah, but...

    They're just taking the time to lovingly overturn every legal precedent that doesn't fit their personal and highly biased view of the constitution.

    I wonder what the ratio of over-turning precedence on this court is, compared to more sensible courts of the past?

  • DracomicronDracomicron Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    I'm getting pretty goddamn tired of all the activist judges on the Supreme Court.
    Yeah, but...

    They're just taking the time to lovingly overturn every legal precedent that doesn't fit their personal and highly biased view of the constitution.

    I wonder what the ratio of over-turning precedence on this court is, compared to more sensible courts of the past?

    The Alito/Roberts/Thomas/Scalia bloc is pretty predictably mainline Republican in their votes, regardless of whether or not the vote overturns precidence. Kennedy is the only one that wavers, and he's been more and more corporatist of late.

    Gary Gygax wrote:
    ''The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules.''
  • RedTideRedTide Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    I'm getting pretty goddamn tired of all the activist judges on the Supreme Court.
    Yeah, but...

    They're just taking the time to lovingly overturn every legal precedent that doesn't fit their personal and highly biased view of the constitution.

    I wonder what the ratio of over-turning precedence on this court is, compared to more sensible courts of the past?

    The Alito/Roberts/Thomas/Scalia bloc is pretty predictably mainline Republican in their votes, regardless of whether or not the vote overturns precidence. Kennedy is the only one that wavers, and he's been more and more corporatist of late.

    I know that people are constantly looking into the conservative blocs finances and practices to see if theres any sort of shenanigans going on, but has anyone ever really taken a hard look at Kennedy?

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    I think we can safely say that Kennedy has turned out not to be the friend of the people we thought he was, since he's also flopped over to the anti-reproductive freedom side of the court. People call him a swing voter, but it looks like he only votes liberal on shit no one cares about. He's just as big of an ass as the radical conservative activist judge bloc, but gets a pass cause he used to vote with Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, well fuck that.

    Kennedy's an ass and his decisions would be better written by a finite number of monkeys.

    I only brought up the precedent over-turning to remind us all that the load of bullshit that the conservative justices spouted in their Senate interviews about "respecting precedent" was, as we suspected, total bullshit and lies.

    These guys clearly have a conservative agenda that they are vigorously pursuing. It seems that they are going out of their way to overturn as much precedent as they can before the court's balance of opinion shifts liberal again. Sounds like judicial activism to me, but then I never had a problem with judicial activism until it became conservative judicial activism that has massively restricted privacy and consumer rights, and re-affirmed the asinine legal view that corporations are people. I mean, come on, they aren't alive, they aren't citizens of this country, they have no birth certificate, they can't vote, they can't drive, they can't get sick, they can't die, they can't reproduce sexually, they can't take a walk, they can't breathe, they can be owned by people - THEY ARE NOT PEOPLE in any sense of the word, but some business tycoon got to be clerk of a court and wrote his own opinion instead of the court's, in the summary, which stated that corporations are people with unlimited life and just this year the current court upheld that complete nonsense!

  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    So after the individual plaintiffs have been dispersed and crushed one-on-one by for-profit me-ation, can they file a class action suit against the arbitration company for goosery?

    Or is there an arbitration clause requiring them to submit to the will of the arbitrator's arbitrator?

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Delzhand wrote: »
    So is there any alternative to binding arbitration? I mean, when I last went apartment hunting, every single contract had an arbitration clause in it. It's not like I could refuse to patronize a property owner and take my business elsewhere, so it's basically a de-facto adherence contract.

    I look forward to the day where I have to agree to mutually binding arbitration to buy a pack of gum. Though it will actually be 2, one to the maker of the gum and one to the seller.

    Trogg wrote: »
    Not as positive as AIDS and cancer, but positive nonetheless.

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  • TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Well, it's good news for Sony:
    A California law firm announced today it has filed a class action lawsuit against Sony / Sony Computer Entertainment America over the PlayStation Network security breach that lead to millions of customers' personal data and credit card information being stolen. In a complaint filed today in the Federal Court for the Northern District of California, Ira Rothken (of the Rothken Law Firm and John Parker of Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff, LLP) alleged that Sony / SCEA did not do "take reasonable care to protect, encrypt, and secure the private and sensitive data" of PlayStation Network users. The firm is seeking monetary compensation, credit monitoring, and other relief for all consumers impacted by the security breach.

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  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    So... a few questions. Would this apply to arbitration clauses in employment contracts? Could a company force people who did not sign any contracts with them into arbitration. Like if a company, I don't know, kills all the fish in the sea, could they require fishermen to go into individual arbitration instead of filing a class action?

    If binding arbitration is a requirement for working anywhere, just like renting anywhere or buying anything, then that would gut many non-union labor laws.

    He's a superhumanly strong soccer-playing romance novelist possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a beautiful African-American doctor with her own daytime radio talk show. They fight crime!
  • dojangodojango Registered User
    edited April 2011
    So... a few questions. Would this apply to arbitration clauses in employment contracts? Could a company force people who did not sign any contracts with them into arbitration. Like if a company, I don't know, kills all the fish in the sea, could they require fishermen to go into individual arbitration instead of filing a class action?

    If binding arbitration is a requirement for working anywhere, just like renting anywhere or buying anything, then that would gut many non-union labor laws.

    Well, this only applies to people that have signed contracts with arbitration clauses. Which are in almost every contract you've ever signed but didn't read the fine print for, whether it's your cell phone or apartment.

    But unless the fishermen had signed a contract with BP or whomever you're referring too, there is no arbitration clause to uphold. So they wouldnt' have to go to arbitration, they could go straight to class-action law suit.

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    How about we just boycott all the contracts with arbitration clauses? There are alternatives to pretty much everything that requires it except maybe housing.

  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Of course the ironic thing is that isn't this exactly the sort of stuff that gets people all up in arms over Sharia courts?

    Also what chance would a member of the public have in these arrangements, in these cases they do seem a lot like it's the company picking it's own in house judge to make the decision. Or would you have the option of picking your own arbitrator?

  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    How about we just boycott all the contracts with arbitration clauses? There are alternatives to pretty much everything that requires it except maybe housing.

    Find me a cell phone provider that doesn't.

    More importantly, find one in six month time.

    Trogg wrote: »
    Not as positive as AIDS and cancer, but positive nonetheless.

    PSN: QuipFilter
  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    http://consumerist.com/2011/04/att-mandatory-binding-arbitration-actually-benefits-the-consumer.html
    The fuckmuppet corporation decided to do a press release.
    The Court recognized that arbitration often benefits consumers. And as noted in the opinion, "...[T]he District Court concluded that the [the plaintiffs] were better off under their arbitration agreement with AT&T than they would have been as participants in a class action, which 'could take months, if not years, and which may merely yield an opportunity to submit a claim for recovery of a small percentage of a few dollars.'" We value our customers, and AT&T's arbitration program is free, fair, fast, easy to use, and consumer friendly.
    Hahaha, they actually used that reasoning in the opinion? I may have to read it. It is so retarded.

  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Do you want some justice or do you want it (possibly winning something if you get really lucky) fast?

    Now you do not get to choose!

    Everybody wins!

    He's a superhumanly strong soccer-playing romance novelist possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a beautiful African-American doctor with her own daytime radio talk show. They fight crime!
  • Undead ScottsmanUndead Scottsman Death Groupie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Ugh, this actually made me a bit nauseous. I'm really hating SCOTUS giving corporations a continuous handjob.

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  • CouscousCouscous Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Don't a lot of these arbitration clauses require the loser to pay the costs?

  • SpoitSpoit *twitch twitch* Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    God dammit America.

    Binding Arbitration is some seriously heinous shit. Shadow judicial system with a profit motive? That's utterly opaque, internally inconsistent, and accountable to no one except the corporations whose contracts they compete for? What could go wrong!

    Are you talking about arbitration, or the current SCOTUS?

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  • SyphonBlueSyphonBlue Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    One of these assholes needs to fucking retire already.

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    SyphonBlue wrote: »
    One of these assholes needs to fucking [strike]retire[/strike] die already.

    While it is morbid, none of these Justices are going to ever retire while Obama is in office.

    Trogg wrote: »
    Not as positive as AIDS and cancer, but positive nonetheless.

    PSN: QuipFilter
  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm perfectly fine if "retire" in this case comes from fatal medical compliations.

    They're spending their golden years breaking my country, I don't really mind if that happens to be the last thing they get to do before dieing.

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