Target: The United States Congress
Goal: Protect consumers’ ability to file class-action lawsuits.
Class-action lawsuits are a form of group litigation that allows individuals to ban together against a common foe within the court system. In other words, it allows a large number of people that share a common interest to sue or be sued as a group. It’s a form of justice, and a way of empowering individuals with small claims to have their day in court. Big businesses are kept in check by the looming presence of such legal action, and consumers’ retain their constitutional right to a trial by jury if product grievances get out of control. Therefore, ensuring the right to file class-action lawsuits is essential in maintaining the balance between large companies and their consumers.
The Arbitration Fairness Act will help preserve consumers’ ability to collectively file lawsuits, by invalidating all arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts. In recent years many companies have altered their service contracts in which they require arbitration and prohibit class-action lawsuits; meaning, consumers’ no longer have a strength in numbers. As Tim Fielden, assistant general counsel for Microsoft (the newest company to employ arbitration requirements) explains, “When a customer in the United States has a dispute about a Microsoft product or service, many of our new user agreements will require that, if we can’t informally resolve the dispute, the customer bring the claim in small claims court or arbitration, but not as part of a class-action lawsuit.” Such a policy switch “gives Microsoft powerful incentives to resolve any dispute to the customer’s satisfaction before it gets to arbitration,” and as such, “customer complaints will be resolved promptly.”
However, the fact remains that class-action lawsuits are the most effective way of holding large companies accountable for inadequate services and/or products, especially when problems involve relatively small amounts of money. For example, say a glitch in Microsoft’s Xbox system resulted in consumers losing a couple dollars each. Many individuals would ignore the problem rather than seek legal remedy; but a class-action lawsuit could result in a multimillion-dollar payout by the company, making it clear that business actions have consequences.
The ability to file class-action lawsuits and demand trial by jury is a constitutional right that big companies must respect. By signing the petition below you will help convince the United States Congress that the Arbitration Fairness Act is essential for the balance between big businesses and their American consumers.
Dear United States Congress,
Big businesses are unfairly altering service contracts to specifically prohibit an American constitutional right. Trial by jury is an American institution that helps insure fairness and equality in various legal disputes, whether problems involve small or large complications. Therefore, forbidding consumers’ the ability to ban together and file class-action lawsuits is not only unconstitutional; it tips the scale in favor of large companies.
It’s a well-documented fact that class-action lawsuits are the most effective means to hold big businesses accountable for their consumer shortcomings. An unsatisfied group of people are capable of demanding justice, as opposed to individually being shut-down or denied. Allowing large companies to change user agreements in which class-action lawsuits are prohibited and consumers are forced into unfair arbitration proceedings, destroys the balance between such institutions and their clients. Christine Hines, consumer and civil justice counsel for the advocacy group Public Citizen, explains it best, “Ending class-action lawsuits allows a company to evade accountability for wrongdoing. You’re denying consumers their legal rights.”
The Arbitration Fairness Act will help maintain bargaining power between consumers and commercial entities, by amending the Federal Arbitration Act to invalidate all arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts. It is a piece of legislation that gives power back to the people and upholds constitutional rights. Take action now to balance the scales between large companies and individual consumers. The right to collectively ban together and demand trial by jury should never be denied. Maintain fairness, and maintain equality.
[Your Name Here]