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Arbitration Clauses Threaten Consumer’s Right to Trial by Jury


The constitutional right to a jury in court is under attack, and big business and banks are leading the charge to strip away at this crucial right that should belong to all citizens. They do this by forcing consumers to sign arbitration clauses waiving the right to a jury. These clauses are hidden in online terms of service, in credit applications and in contracts that we sign on a daily basis.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a process by which your case is not heard by a jury, but rather, by a single person who is the arbitrator and ultimate decision maker. Arbitrators can be lawyers, retired judges, or may have nothing to do with the legal system at all. Unlike judges, they aren’t publicly elected or appointed, and also unlike judges, they get paid per case, as opposed to drawing a salary from the state, the way a judge does.

This creates an inherent bias: If AT&T brings Arbitrator X 200 cases a year, and you are a consumer with a single case, who do you think the arbitrator is going to be more favorable to?

Arbitration is designed to be quicker and more efficient than being in court. That is done by limiting the information that both parties can obtain from the other. But often this allows businesses to hide information, and limits the ability of a consumer to get all the information they may need to prove a case.

Most troubling is that the case is heard by the arbitrator, not a jury. Businesses like this because they feel that juries are susceptible to emotion and provide “runaway” verdicts for individuals. It also allows them to eliminate the emotion in favor of a consumer or victim that a jury may feel in a case. Thus, you lose the right to be judged by a jury of your peers, as the Constitution dictates.

If you don‘t like how an arbitrator rules, unlike when a court rules against you, you have few rights to appeal an arbitrator’s decision.

Google Pixel Using Arbitration Clauses

Recently, Google began allowing customers to opt out of binding arbitration, although the process is a bit complex. Absent opting out, consumers will be subject to a binding arbitration agreement.

That means that if you have problems with the products, or you don’t think Google is living up to its warranty, or even possibly if the entire device malfunctions and injuries you, that you won’t be able to go to court with a judge and gather evidence for your case.

Rather, you’ll be in an arbitrators office, likely having your case sped up as fast as possible, before you have the evidence you need to win. 

This is just the most recent example of arbitration abuse; Google is hardly the first or last company to use arbitration against consumers.

We help consumers protect their rights, whether in front of arbitrators or juries. Contact Jacobs Legal in Miami today to discuss how to fight back as a consumer against big business.


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