Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rep. Johnson requests House Judiciary hearing on arbitration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte requesting a full hearing to carefully review the issue of pre-dispute (“forced”) arbitration clauses that appear in millions of consumer contracts – from employment to automobile sales and from nursing-home admission to cell phone service. 

The letter, cosigned by Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Michigan), comes on the heels of a powerful three-part investigative series in The New York Times examining the alarming rise by corporations of including forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts that block consumers’ access to the courts, and also their right to participate in class-action lawsuits.

According to the series, forced arbitration falls woefully short as a fair and just system for consumers seeking to hold corporations accountable when a dispute arises.

“Simply put, pre-dispute, forced arbitration deprives consumers of their day in court, and is a secretive, abusive and unfair process that favors corporations,” Johnson said. “With forced arbitration stacking the deck against the consumer, corporate overreach can’t be checked. The Seventh Amendment to the Constitution guarantees to people the right to a jury trial in a court of law before an impartial judge; in a trial that is open and fair. In stark contrast, The New York Times has resoundingly established that forced arbitration is a closed, unjust, and discriminatory system.”

Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) is the author of the Arbitration Fairness Act and ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, which exercises jurisdiction over issues of arbitration.

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