Supreme Court Listens to AT&T Arguments Banning Class Action Suits

Monday, November 08, 2010
David and Goliath by Osmar Schindler (1888)
If AT&T has its way, the telecom giant and other corporations won’t be subject to class-action lawsuits by consumers.
In a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court (AT&T Mobility vs. Concepcion), the company will argue that the cell phone contract the plaintiffs signed forbids them from participating in class action cases. A victory before the Supreme Court would dramatically change the playing field between consumers and businesses, if the latter can restrict customers from taking them to court to settle grievances through the power of the fine print.
“This would take away in such cases arguably the most powerful legal tool available to the little guy, particularly in cases involving relatively small amounts of money,” wrote David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times about the AT&T case, which will be heard this week in Washington.
Restricting class action lawsuits could lead to businesses engaging in more unfair or deceptive practices, argue consumer advocates. AT&T is being backed in this case by several heavy hitters in the big business community, including the American Bankers Association, The Financial Services Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Consumers' Right to File Class Actions Is in Danger (by David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times)
The Arbitration Trap (Public Citizen) (pdf)


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