The Future of Class Actions
Amending the Federal Arbitration Act
Over the past three weeks, we have shared the insights of Vanderbilt Law School Professor Brian T. Fitzpatrick on the importance of class actions to maintaining fair business practices in America’s economy, particularly the consumer sector. See The Conservative Case for Class Actions, Brian T. Fitzpatrick (Univ. of Chicago Press 2019). Last week, we shared his empirical data demonstrating the merits of class actions, their efficiency as means of enforcing laws, and the real compensation those who have suffered economic injury take away from class actions.
The effectiveness of class actions, however, is reduced by arbitration clauses with class action waivers that are now a part of many consumer contracts. Consumers really cannot be said to freely accept these contracts with arbitration demands and waivers. When is the last time you noticed the arbitration clause in a consumer contract you signed or buried in the packaging of a product you bought?
Some states, like California, recognize the unconscionability of these kinds of terms and refuse to enforce these types of clauses in consumer contracts. The Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq., which recognizes the validity of arbitration clauses in consumer contracts, has been interpreted to override State law. Prof. Fitzpatrick argues that Congress needs to amend the Act to change this in order for class actions to function as they should. The bottom line from Prof. Fitzpatrick’s analysis is that everything should be done to strengthen class actions as private enforcement means for maintaining a fair and free American economy.
Ingrid M. Evans and the other plaintiffs’ lawyers at Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent plaintiffs in class action lawsuits, financial elder abuse cases, consumer fraud cases, cases where consumers are sold unsuitable insurance policies or investment products, and whistleblower and qui tam actions for fraud against agencies of the United States government or the State of California at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. Our attorneys have experience with complex financial contracts and large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement. We handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, qui tam and whistleblower law, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.