Yesterday, the New York Times featured the second article in its three-part series on the growing use of arbitration to create an alternate justice system—one that deprives citizens of the right to their day in court. According to the article, which featured many stories of individuals harmed by forced arbitration, “[f]rom birth to death, the use of arbitration has crept into nearly every corner of Americans’ lives, encompassing moments like having a baby, going to school, getting a job, buying a car, building a house and placing a parent in a nursing home.” Unfortunately, as stated in the first article in this series, “[b]y inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts” many companies have “devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.”
The New York Times is absolutely right in this important series and Locks Law Firm is doing what it can to stem the tide. Indeed, earlier this year, Locks Law Firm attorneys, including Michael Galpern, Andrew Bell, James Barry and Chuck Riley, wrote an amicus brief, on behalf of the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ), regarding the enforceability of an arbitration clause in a for-profit school’s enrollment agreement in a case currently pending before the Supreme Court of New Jersey. In their brief, Locks Law Firm attorneys argued, in part: “In order to protect consumers, it is imperative that consumer contracts, like those provided by for-profit schools to their students, be written in clear, plain language so that consumers can understand both the obligations imposed on them, and the rights – or waiver of rights – contained in such contracts.”
The contract at issue in the case was particularly egregious, in that it not only waived student’s rights under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, but also required an arbitrator to rule on whether the agreement was enforceable instead of a Court, as is the default method throughout the United States.