by Deepak Gupta
We've blogged before about the proposed Arbitration Fairness Act, federal legislation that would end the scourge of pre-dispute mandatory binding arbitration clauses in consumer, employment, and franchise contracts.
Tomorrow, at 2pm, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, will hold a hearing on the legislation. The Committee is chaired by Rep. Linda Sanchez of California.
The witnesses tomorrow include Laura MacCleery, the director of Public Citizen's lobbying arm, Congress Watch, who will testify about the evils of mandatory binding arbitration in consumer disputes and the ways in which arbitral fora are used as assembly-line debt collection mills, thereby avoiding the protections that consumers would otherwise be afforded under federal law. As we've already mentioned here, Public Citizen recently released a report detailing how arbitration of disputes between consumers and credit card companies overwhelmingly favor the companies. The report, The Arbitration Trap: How Credit Card Companies Ensnare Consumers, is a detailed study of predatory practices in California, the only state that requires arbitration firms to publicly disclose information.
Tomorrow's lineup also includes:
- Richard Naimark, a VP at the American Arbitration Association, one of the big arbitration companies
- former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, who now represents consumers as a trial lawyer
- Ken Conner, a conservative Republican trial lawyer who represents victims of nursing home abuse
- Cathy Ventrell-Monsees, representing the National Employment Lawyers Association
- Peter Rutledge, America's only pro-mandatory-binding-arbitration law professor. (That's an exaggeration, of course. But here's Rutledge's forthcoming law review article explaining why getting rid of mandatory arbitration would, in his view, actually harm consumers)
- Theodore Eppenstein, a lawyer who specializes in securities fraud cases