Case before US Supreme Court May Decide Fate of Consumer Class Actions

In November of this year, the US Supreme Court hear arguments in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, a case that could decide the fate of consumer and employee class actions for years to come.

The case involves the widespread practice of using standard-form contracts to ban class actions. Courts in California and other states have held that class-action bans are unenforceable, however AT&T Mobility has asked the Supreme Court to find that state laws are preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act..

The problem is that class-action bans are often disastrous for consumers and employees. Class-action bans in consumer contracts prevent consumers and employees from ever participating in class proceedings. According to attorney Paul Bland of Public Justice, companies love imposing class-action bans because they dramatically undermine enforcement of consumer- and employee-protection laws. It is no answer to point to government consumer protection agencies which which handle but few cases. Class actions and the threat of such actions in many cases are the only protection against corporations picking the pockets of consumers.

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