HIGHTOWER: Fight Mandatory Arbitration

Most Red, White & Blue Americans would hoot at any politician who would even suggest taking away our hard-won right to go to court when we've been injured. The right to have a jury decide your case was put into the Constitution by the founders so even the humblest citizen would have a way to stand up to the arbitrariness and abuse of the powerful.

But what politicians wouldn't dare propose directly is being achieved indirectly by powerful corporations, their political puppets, and pro-corporate courts. Their backdoor approach is a devious concept called "mandatory arbitration." It's devious because, while arbitration sounds like an impartial process, this assault on our rights is decidedly partial -- to the corporation and against consumers.

Start with the fact that arbitration is a sneak attack, being put into all sorts of consumer dealings without being explained. Buy a car, sign an apartment lease, join an HMO, get a credit card, contract for pest control, buy stock -- in the small print, companies slip in a provision that says you must never sue them, but instead submit to binding arbitration. You surrender all of your rights to a trial by a jury of your peers!

Who are these "arbitrators"? Usually, they're private firms chosen by and paid by the corporations. For example, Consumer Reports magazine notes that the credit card firm, First USA, paid an arbitration firm $5 million to arbitrate some 19,000 cases with its customers ... and customers won only 87 times!

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Mandatory arbitration is a stacked deck against you. To fight it. Call Paul Bland of the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice: 202-797-8600.

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