Over a period of time, we here at Wexler Wallace have noticed that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to get a fair shake. From mandatory binding arbitration clauses, more difficult standards for certifying class actions, and proposed bills to curb consumers’ access to the courts, finding corporations accountable for wrongdoing is a herculean task for the “Average Joe.”
The Chamber of Commerce sees things differently, however, and takes the view that most (if not all) class actions are an “abuse” of the court system. Its recent survey noted that state courts are becoming more business-friendly (and, that is, more consumer-hostile). Arthur Bryant, Chairman of Public Justice, reviewed the survey in a recent article, and noted some significant flaws in its conclusions and methodology. While the Chamber of Commerce sees pro-business courts as the gold standard of what courts should be, Mr. Bryant hits the nail on the head when he recognizes that courts should just be fair and unbiased instead of being judged on the Chamber’s rubric:
What we need in America are state and federal court systems that are fair—and biased in no one’s favor. Unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce’s latest propaganda piece shows we are far from that goal and, for some time, things have been getting worse. Big businesses’ own lawyers say that state court systems have turned increasingly in Corporate America’s favor since the “survey” began.
This needs to stop. Our courts systems need to turn back to being even-handed. That’s the only way justice can be done.
Lawmakers are considering a number of bills that would lessen or eliminate access to the courts, and inject more bias into the legal system.
Recently the House of Representatives passed a bill which would make sanctions against consumers who bring lawsuits mandatory if they are found to have violated a certain Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. The Senate is now considering the bill. A similar bill was passed by the House in 2013, which Public Citizen noted could discourage valid lawsuits and “unfairly penalize consumers and burden the judiciary.” But procedural safeguards are already in place to eliminate lawsuit abuse.
How can you help stop the forward march to eliminating consumers’ access to the courts? You can start by writing to your senator.