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Posts Tagged ‘consumer rights’

It has only been a few months since the Supreme Court issued its decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, holding that state laws holding class arbitration waivers unenforceable as against public policy are preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), and the Court is already considering a new case involving the enforceability of arbitration agreements in consumer contracts.  

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Compucredit Corp. v. Greenwood, No. 10-948, in which the issue is whether a federal law’s grant to consumers of a right to sue can be waived through an arbitration agreement.  A copy of the oral argument transcript is now available at the Court’s website.  Most of the questions were directed at issues of statutory construction under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1679 et seq., and in particular whether Congress intended that the right to sue in court be non-waivable.  The Ninth Circuit’s decision below, the limited scope of the question presented for review, and the questions posed at oral argument would all suggest that the Court is unlikely in its ultimate opinion to address some of deeper questions remaining after Conception, such as whether and under what circumstances a consumer arbitration agreement can be held unconscionable under federal law.  Then again, as aptly illustrated in Justice Scalia’s opinion in Concepcion decision, the possibility that the decision will go beyond the limited statutory questions presented and address deeper public policy issues can never be ruled out.

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Two op-eds published today highlight the philosophical debate over the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.

The first, published by the New York Times, argues that the decision is a “devastating blow to consumer rights” because it makes it practically impossible for many consumers to seek vindication of their rights in any forum.

In response, Forbes contributor Daniel Fischer argues that Concepcion’s limitation on consumer class actions does not really harm consumers because consumer class actions really only benefit lawyers.  As a prime example, he points to the controversial proposed settlement in a class action involving DirectBuy to which 36 attorneys general and a consumer rights organization have objected.

I would recommend reading both articles for anyone interested in the possible social and legal implications of the Court’s recent decision.

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