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News Clips

News Clips

2017

City Pages (Minnesota), October 18, 2017

The plot to kill consumer protection

Yet Wells Fargo protected itself with what experts describe as the most restrictive arbitration clause in the banking industry. Such clauses are a staple of consumer contracts for everything from phone service to financial advice. Should a dispute arise, it forces consumers out of the court system and into a shadowy realm where appeals aren’t allowed, corporations historically wield a huge advantage—when not outright rigging the system—and details of misconduct are kept private. It’s essentially a divide-and-conquer strategy, making customers challenge the bank’s malfeasance individually, instead of pooling their efforts to contest as one. In other words, if Wells Fargo sawed a woman in half, each of her body’s cells would have to bring its own case.

The Intercept, October 16, 2017

Senate Democrats Claim a Top Banking Regulator Is Serving Illegally in His Position

Six Senate Democrats have asked the Treasury Department’s inspector general to investigate whether Keith Noreika, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is illegally serving in office. As The Intercept first reported, September 12 represented Noreika’s 130th day in control of the OCC, one of the most critical banking regulators in the federal government. That’s a key number, because Noreika, a former financial industry lawyer thrust into the position overnight, has been serving as a “special government employee,” a designation that exempts him from certain ethics and disclosure rules for members of the executive branch. This enables Noreika to serve as OCC chief without Senate vetting, and then roll back to a white-shoe law firm, evading certain restrictions on whether he can communicate with former colleagues or lobby the agency. Despite having to recuse himself from matters involving 14 banks that the OCC oversees because of his prior work, Noreika has done plenty since being installed May 5. He’s attacked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s arbitration rule (one he used while representing Wells Fargo), producing a study claiming it would raise the cost of credit. And, earlier this month, he opened the door for big banks to return to offering a payday loan-style product, just an hour after CFPB issued a rule cracking down on payday loans. It was a remarkable counterattack on a fellow regulator, pulled off after the 130-day clock had expired.

The Hill, October 16, 2017

OPINION: The truth about the arbitration rule is it protects American consumers

This summer, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule that prevents financial companies from using arbitration clauses to deny groups of consumers the ability to pursue their legal rights in court. We put this rule in place after conducting a comprehensive study that found that these clauses were effectively blocking billions of dollars of relief for millions of harmed consumers. Opponents of our rule are now doing everything they can to prevent these protections from taking effect.

The Hill, October 13, 2017Newsweek, October 12, 2017

OPINION: Congress takes Wells Fargo, Equifax to task; now it must act

Republicans and Democrats have found something they enjoy doing together — raking Wells Fargo and Equifax over the coals.  At a Senate Banking Committee hearing last week, their joint target was Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan, summoned back to explain the sharply increased victim toll and ever-expanding scope of his company misdeeds. Sloan portrayed Wells Fargo as a humbled company on the path to recovery, but lawmakers of both parties questioned whether a 30-year insider was really the right guy to lead a corporate cleanup.

Newsweek, October 12, 2017

It’s Not Just Hollywood: Women Are Attacked by Men in Nearly Every Workplace

Many companies continue to use mandatory arbitration to settle complaints of sexual harassment outside of court, keeping cases out of the public eye and legally binding victims to silence. President Donald Trump has taken steps to make sure those companies could continue to do so: In March, Trump rolled back the Obama-era Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which had banned forced arbitration for sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination cases.

Fox Business, October 10, 2017

VIDEO: ‘Monopoly Man’ takes on Equifax

Public Citizen Arbitration Campaign Manager Amanda Werner on why they dressed up as ‘Monopoly Man’ during the Equifax Senate hearing.

New York Times, October 10, 2017

Gretchen Carlson: How to Encourage More Women to Report Sexual Harassment

Workplace sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But that doesn’t mean the law is on every woman’s side. If her employment contract includes an arbitration clause, she’s likely to have signed away her right to a jury trial. It’s no surprise that many contracts include these clauses: They benefit employers. A 2011 Cornell University study found that employees are less likely to win arbitration cases than cases that go to trial. And when employees do prevail, they’re often prohibited from discussing the case. This veil of secrecy protects serial harassers by keeping other potential victims in the dark, and minimizing pressure on companies to fire predators.

Daily Reveille (Louisiana), October 9, 2017

Sen. Kennedy Should Approve the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Arbitration Rule

It is crucial that consumers could have a free choice when it comes to decide whether class action or arbitration is the best process to assert their rights. Here, binding arbitration clauses included in contracts are no longer sustainable as they contradict one of the basic principles this country has been built on: freedom of choice.

The Intercept, October 6, 2017

In New Lawsuit, Corporations Band Together to Stop Consumers from Banding Together

Eighteen groups representing thousands of corporations and banks filed the lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last Friday in federal court in Dallas. Oddly, they did not attempt to individually resolve the dispute through an arbitration process, which they’ve consistently said yields speedier and better results for those wronged. “Arbitration gives consumers the ability to bring claims that they could not realistically assert in court,” the lawsuit reads. But for corporations, banding together in courts apparently presents a better option.

The Hill, October 5, 2017

GOP Polling Firm: Bipartisan Support for Consumer Bureau Arbitration Rule

American Future Fund (AFF), a GOP polling company, said 67 percent of respondents to a recent phone survey supported the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) recently released rule on forced arbitration clauses, according to results shared first with The Hill on Thursday.

Slate, October 4, 2017

Mr. Monopoly Is the Consumer Protection Hero We Need

According to CNBC, the costumed crusader’s appearance comes courtesy of the groups Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform, which are seeking to draw attention to the way forced arbitration clauses favor financial institutions rather than consumers. In a statement, Public Citizen called arbitration clauses a “get out of jail free” card for companies: “Forced arbitration clauses buried in the fine print of take-it-or-leave-it contracts may be the single most important tool that predatory banks, payday lenders, credit card companies and other financial institutions have used to escape accountability for cheating and defrauding consumers.”

GQ, October 4, 2017

A Chat With the Viral “Monopoly Man” Who Trolled the Equifax Senate Hearing

Amid these terrible scandals coming out of Equifax and Wells Fargo, Republicans in the Senate are trying to roll back a key consumer protection that restores consumers’ right to sue banks and lenders in court when they break the law. Under the current system that Republicans are trying to protect, consumers are forced into secret arbitration proceedings where the bank or lenders pick who decides the case and what rules apply.

Time, October 4, 2017

The ‘Monopoly Man’ Showed Up to Equifax’s Senate Hearing and It Was ‘Magical’

“We sent the Monopoly man to the #Equifax hearing to send a message,” Public Citizen tweeted. “Forced arbitration gives @Equifax a monopoly over our justice system.”

Baton Rouge Advocate, October 4, 2017

Wall Street Seeks Limits on Consumer Rights

Lobbyists are claiming that we shouldn’t let people who have been wronged by a big bank choose whether to go to court or use arbitration because consumers do better in arbitration, winning $5,389 on average. But that’s only for the 16 people a year who have unusually big cases and who win. Most people can’t afford to take on a big bank alone, and those who do usually lose: The average person in arbitration actually ends up paying the bank or company $7,725. That’s like saying that a baseball team that has a 33-129 record “wins by 5 runs on average.”

The Atlantic, October 3, 2017

One Year After Its Fake-Accounts Scandal, Wells Fargo Isn’t ‘A Better Bank’

While Sloan tried to focus on progress made in the past year—bringing up changes made to the bank’s organizational structure, review processes, plans for repaying customers, sales incentives, and corporate culture—the senators focused on how long it took Wells Fargo to open official inquiries into the claims of fake accounts, the predatory nature of the sales processes, and the compensation executives received. The committee members dwelled on the questions of how the bank’s practices could be improved and whether it should be allowed to continue operating in the first place.

U.S. News and World Report, October 3, 2017

The ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Party

Big corporations like Equifax and Wells Fargo cling to so-called forced-arbitration clauses as a way to shield themselves from lawsuits. Under the ubiquitous clauses, consumers are forced to waive their constitutional right to sue when wronged or injured by the company. Instead, they must go into private, binding arbitration – under rules that favor the company.

Denver Business Journal, October 3, 2017

Protestors in Denver Say Wells Fargo Shouldn’t Be Let Off the Hook

The Wells Fargo wrongdoing has revealed that banks use an arbitration clause in their contracts for credit cards and bank accounts that, when signed by consumers, pushes disputes into arbitration and out of the eye of regulatory authorities, said Josh Downey, president of the Denver Area Labor Federation.Economic Policy Institute, October 2, 2017

Economic Policy Institute, October 2, 2017

Forced Arbitration Is Bad for Consumers

New data helps illuminate why these banks—and Wells Fargo in particular—prefer forced arbitration to class action lawsuits. We already knew that consumers obtain relief regarding their claims in just 9 percent of disputes, while arbitrators grant companies relief in 93 percent of their claims. But not only do companies win the overwhelming majority of claims when consumers are forced into arbitration—they win big.

The Richland Source, October 1, 2017

Alerting Ohioans to Forced Arbitration Clauses

Any family who’s been through the transition of admitting a loved one into a nursing home will tell you it’s a difficult time in the best of circumstances. Forcing those families to sign away their rights is not only wrong, it’s dangerous.

The Standard-Speaker (Pennsylvania), September 29, 2017

Real Protection for Consumers

The system further serves corporate interests by quietly resolving egregious conduct, such as Wells Fargo’s creation of millions of fee-generating accounts with customers’ permission — rather than having it exposed in court. They system also reduces the costs of legal defense and the amount of awards, while eliminating the deterrence against bad behavior that comes with the prospect of litigation.

Consumerist, September 29, 2017

Chamber of Commerce Files Lawsuit to Stop American Consumers From Being Able to File Lawsuits

The Chamber of Commerce — along with dozens of others including the American Bankers Association, and the Financial Services Roundtable — have filed suit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (an actual government agency, though there are some on Capitol Hill who would rather that weren’t so), trying to stop a Bureau rule that would limit banks’ and other financial services’ ability to strip wronged consumers of their right to a day in court.

The Intercept, September 28, 2017

After Equifax Breach, GOP Senators Don’t Yet Have Votes to Overturn Critical Rule That Protects Consumers

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., opposes the move and several other Republicans are undecided, including Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have not publicly supported the vote either. The 52 Senate Republicans can only lose two votes if they want to meet the 50-vote threshold they need to move forward, as Democrats are confident they can put up a unified opposition.

Burlington Free Press, September 28, 2017

Allow Class-Action Lawsuits Against Equifax, Banks

“I’ve talked with a number of people who are potential arbitrators,” Leahy said at a Wednesday news conference with Senate Democrats. “They know if they ever rule against one of the big companies, these arbitrators, they’ll never get picked again. These are inherently unequal relationships.”

Associated Press, September 27, 2017

Dems Wield Equifax, Wells Fargo in Fight Over Arbitration

“These companies did terrible, terrible wrong and they want to prevent consumers from having rights to sue them. That is outrageous,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said at a news conference Wednesday in the Capitol. “Put simply, we’re urging our Republican colleagues to say no to immunity for Equifax, Wells Fargo or anyone else who does such horrible financial misdeeds.”

Techspot, September 26, 2017

Hundreds of Law Professors Sent a Letter Urging Senators to Uphold Your Right to Sue Equifax

The piece of legislation in question was originally created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The House has since voted to repeal it and many, including the CFPB, are worried that the Senate may be next. They have “found that blocking group lawsuits makes it nearly impossible for most consumers to get justice and relief for wrongdoing.”

The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), September 26, 2017

AG Jeff Landry Is Not Protecting Louisiana Consumers

Our attorney general has unfortunately decided to oppose the CFPB rule.  By opposing the rule, Landry in effect protects corporate wrongdoers like Wells Fargo and Equifax and shields them with immunity from class actions, over the interests of Louisiana consumers. Furthermore, Landry, who should support corporate accountability, criticizes the CFPB rule for requiring companies to hand over “confidential” corporate records to government officials.  Is Landry really saying that government officials, like himself, should not have broad access to records of corporate misbehavior?  I would expect more from someone charged with protecting Louisiana citizens.

The Hill, September 26, 2017

We Must Fight for Our 7th Amendment Rights

We now know that Wells Fargo created up to 3.5 million fake accounts, many of those were created after 2013. In another case, Wells Fargo is currently trying to use forced arbitration to block class actions that could restore up to $1 billion in overdraft fees charged to people when their accounts were not overdrawn.

USA Today, September 26, 2017

Equifax Fallout Underscores Need to Defend Consumer Access to Trial by Jury

Many U S. companies, including Equifax, have required people to agree to settle disputes by arbitration, and forgo their right to trial by jury. Big corporations have poured money into the political system to win less regulation, and this investment has paid off: mandatory arbitration clauses are becoming the norm.

Reuters, September 26, 2017

Senate Poised to Repeal New Rule Allowing Consumer Class Actions

The rule says financial companies must allow customers to participate in class actions, lawsuits where people alleging the same wrong band together to cover litigation costs, and cannot force them to only settle disputes in closed-door arbitration.

NY Daily News, September 26, 2017

Equifax and Wells Fargo Reveal What’s Offensively Wrong with Forced Arbitration

The consequences of such forced arbitration are significant: It would prevent class actions like the one that recently recovered $30 million for 130,000 active-duty service-members who alleged that Bank of America had charged them illegally high interest rates. If these service-members banked with Wells Fargo, they would have been out of luck.

MarketWatch, September 25, 2017

400 college professors say you should be able to sue Equifax and other financial institutions

A group of college professors is rallying in support of consumers’ right to sue. Some 423 law school, university and college professors are sending a letter to two senators, encouraging them to support a rule the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has passed. The CFPB announced a final version of the rule in July that would ban companies from putting “mandatory arbitration clauses” in their contracts, language that prohibits consumers from bringing class-action suits against them. It applies to institutions that sell financial products, including bank accounts and credit cards. Rather than being allowed to sue, consumers who sign such a contract have to resolve disputes with companies through privately appointed individuals known as arbitrators, allowing companies to save time and money and avoid negative publicity.

Columbus Dispatch, September 23, 2017

EDITORIAL: Preserve consumers’ right to sue

Arbitration is a fine way to resolve a dispute, when both parties agree to it and the playing field is level. When it is forced, because one side is essentially compelled into signing away all other options, it’s a quick route to abuse. Consumer groups are right to push back against the Trump administration’s move to undo yet another Obama-era attempt to protect ordinary people from powerful corporations.

American Banker, September 22, 2017

OPINION: CFPB arbitration rule is an undeniable win for consumers

Cioffi’s argument on the contentious issue runs thus: If allowed to go into effect, the arbitration rule will unleash trial lawyers to file more class-action lawsuits. At the same time, the Trump administration’s aggressive deregulatory efforts are already unleashing corporations to engage in more bad, or at least, in more controversial behavior. As Cioffi sees it, these two developments mean more lawsuits. In turn, more lawsuits will mean an efficiency drag on producers, which in turn will mean that banks — which determine the prices of products and services, in part, on their own assessment of regulatory and legal risk — will charge consumers more. That argument certainly sounds plausible. But it has a weakness: Deregulation can cut both ways. Yes, reducing regulatory burdens can certainly invite more litigation; however, it can also boost private-sector efficiency. In other words, deregulation can make costs go up — or down. At this early stage in the Trump deregulatory push, we can’t confidently predict which way costs will go. And that unknown leaves Cioffi’s argument without an engine. What remains is a conventional indictment of class action lawsuits versus arbitration. But even that belief rests on a couple of assumptions that are, at best, questionable.

The Advocate (Louisiana), September 21, 2017

OPINION: The feds should not take away defrauded students’ day in court

Corinthian and Ashford, like other for-profit schools, have used fine print forced arbitration clauses in their contracts to convince courts to throw students out of court and deny them the ability to band together to expose widespread fraud. Instead, students are forced to bring their claims one by one before a private arbitrator, agreed to by the school, in a secretive process with virtually no appeal. Even if a student wins, the arbitrator has no power to force the school to address harm to thousands of other students in the same situation. Forced arbitration clauses have also been used as a shield by banks, student loan servicer Navient (formerly Sallie Mae), and debt collectors pursing students overwhelmed with debt. Students have been kicked out of court when trying to challenge loans for fraudulent schools or confront illegal and abusive debt collection tactics, including repeated robocalls to cellphones and even calls to a student’s boyfriend’s grandmother. Fortunately, some help is on the horizon — if Congress and DeVos do not block it. Last year, the Education Department enacted a rule that prohibits schools that take federal aid from using forced arbitration to block students from pursuing fraud claims in court. But DeVos has delayed the rule and is considering reversing it.

The Nation, September 21, 2017

OPINION: The Financial Industry Is Its Own Best Enemy

Wells Fargo also demonstrated the need for an independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was set up under Dodd-Frank. Local newspapers and prosecutors discovered that Wells Fargo was abusing clients by opening fake accounts in their names, but there was little they could do about it: City prosecutors are under-resourced and lack the regulatory authority necessary to challenge a national bank. The CFPB, however, was designed to take on just such malfeasance. Wells Fargo is the poster child for how broken the regulatory structure is without a dedicated consumer cop on the beat. Which brings us to the Equifax scandal. Equifax, one of the three main consumer-credit data companies, is paid to spy on and compile all of your personal financial records. The company holds sensitive data on almost every aspect of our lives, yet hackers were able to get past their weak protection systems. This is because you aren’t a customer of Equifax; you are the company’s product. As a result, Equifax has no incentive to provide you with good services. In the wake of the hack, Equifax offered a credit-monitoring tool, but to use it consumers needed to sign a mandatory non-arbitration agreement that said they wouldn’t sue the company. (Equifax has since dropped this requirement after an outcry.) These kinds of non-arbitration agreements replace courts with a private judicial system of company lawyers, and they have since metastasized across the entire economy. The CFPB recently finalized a rule that would outlaw these mandatory agreements by financial companies starting next year. Among other things, the rule would prevent Equifax from forcing people into arbitration after it goes into effect. Yet under an obscure congressional procedure, Republicans have the ability to repeal this rule with only 50 votes in the Senate. Though they might still do it, they’re having a harder time now, since they would be on the hook for any further abuses.

The Hill, September 20, 2017

OPINION: Equifax shows Republicans must end attacks on financial regulation

It’s time for the Senate Republicans working to roll back a vital consumer safeguard just issued by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to say “uncle.” After Equifax, the accumulated weight of evidence is just too much, no matter how much congressional opponents of the CFPB may want to please their political financiers. In July, the CFPB issued a rule prohibiting rip-off clauses — perhaps the single most important tool that big banks and financial companies have used to escape accountability for cheating, conning, fleecing, defrauding and plundering consumers — in the fine print of consumer financial contracts. The common-sense CFPB rule would ban contract terms that prohibit consumers from joining together to hold banks and other financial companies accountable for wrongdoing through class-action lawsuits.

Huffington Post, September 19, 2017

OPINION: Forced Arbitration’s Lethal Consequence

Just as Rick Scott made things worse for nursing home residents when he was elected governor, Donald Trump almost immediately followed suit upon being elected president. Only a few months into this new administration, Trump’s CMS started the process of undoing the rule banning forced arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts. Trump’s new rule would give nursing homes authority to force families to sign arbitration clauses in violation of their legal rights, and oust residents who won’t agree. This is a shocking development for an agency whose mission should be protecting Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, not contributing to and condoning their abuse and neglect. Consumers, patients and many in Congress are fighting back, although it’s a tough battle right now. (There’s much activity regarding forced arbitration in many critical contexts, such as the financial services industry and recent scandals like the Equifax data breach. Go here to help.) But the hypocrisy of current politicians, who feign concern for the nursing home residents who perished in Florida yet championed efforts to make their abuse and neglect more likely, should not go unnoticed. As Mr. Carter wrote, “It’s unlikely the families of the dead residents will get justice. Florida has the largest elderly population in the nation, yet nursing home residents get horribly mistreated like this not infrequently. In most cases, there is no media coverage, no outrage, and no accountability.” Let’s hope that even if reckless nursing homes aren’t properly held accountable, the blamable politicians are.

Bankrate, September 19, 2017

Why the Equifax data breach may impact your right to sue financial firms

The Equifax data breach may have made a heated legal debate even hotter. For months, groups have fought over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed arbitration rule, which would let more consumers team up to sue banks, credit card companies and other financial firms. The U.S. House of Representatives in July voted to repeal the rule. But chances of the rule dying in the Senate may have shrunk. Here’s a look at what could happen and how you can weigh in.

American Banker, September 18, 2017

OPINION: CFPB’s arbitration rule is best defense for ‘wronged’ consumers

When I read the news about the Equifax data breach on my phone last week, I immediately clicked on the company’s link, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, to find out if my personal data was at risk. It was. What I didn’t realize at the time was that, just by checking on my data, I forfeited my right to participate in class action lawsuits against Equifax. So much for the “helpful” website Equifax created in response to the problem. Once a few savvy consumers and policymakers, including New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, read the fine print, uproar over the company’s clause ensued. Equifax ultimately clarified that the clauses only related to “the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection products, and not the cybersecurity incident,” and then the company removed the clause altogether. But Equifax’s initial instinct to protect itself rather than do right by people is part of a real problem that has been getting worse.

Portland Press Herald (Maine), September 17, 2017

OPINION: Class action protections not partisan

In the coming days, the U.S. Senate will vote on whether to repeal a common-sense rule established in July by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after studying the numbers related to class action lawsuits and private arbitration of consumer claims. The bureau concluded what most of us know instinctively: The playing field is not level between consumers and big businesses, especially in the financial sector, and the market is not free. The new rule codifies what should be obvious: Taxpaying consumers get their day in court and can join together to enjoy the economies of scale like everyone else. The rule says financial companies can’t force customers to privately arbitrate disputes instead of publicly accessing the U.S. justice system – but beware of charlatans trumpeting political ideology in the fight for votes. Access to justice in civil courts is about money. Profit and consumer protection – not politics – are at stake.

Consumer Reports, September 14, 2017

Consumers Union Demands Equifax Make Affected Customers Whole

Equifax should remove all mandatory arbitration clauses. Equifax has been criticized for forcing victims visiting its site to waive their right to sue the company. Equifax says that it has corrected this issue, but Consumers Union says the remedy is confusing and insufficient. “Equifax has repeatedly changed its story about whether and how the mandatory arbitration clause impacts consumers,” the letter said. For example, after Equifax said its arbitration clause was moot, Consumers Union notes that another—broader—arbitration clause remained in effect. According to Consumers Union, Equifax is now saying that none of these clauses will apply to consumers harmed by the data breach or who sign up for credit monitoring services. However, the clauses remain in print and, Consumers Union says, “it’s unclear whether or how they could still be used to prevent consumers from having their day in court.”

Maine Beacon, September 14, 2017

Rep. Poliquin took thousands from Equifax, opposed forced arbitration protections

That wasn’t the first time that the committee advanced legislation supported by Equifax, which has spent more than half a million dollars on federal lobbying efforts so far this year. Their main goal has been to undermine rules advanced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would prevent companies from using the fine print in user agreements to trick consumers into signing away their rights, exactly as Equifax attempted to do in the wake of the breach.

Nasdaq, September 14, 2017

This Year Alone, the CFPB Has Recovered $14MN for Consumers Harmed by Illegal Business Practices

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been looking out for the little guy since the recession 10 years ago, and this year alone they’ve returned $14MN in restitution to consumers harmed by illegal business practices.  These are just a sample of the rulings that the CFPB has handed down over the years.  The recent Equifax data breach has dredged up some criticism for the Bureau, as some would like to see its powers and rulings stripped away, such as their newly-minted arbitration clause that could be repealed under the Congressional Review Act. If anything, the deliquency and bad behavior of large scale companies like Equifax reasserts the importance of demanding company accountability by the CFPB, it’s becoming all too clear that these businesses will try to assuage liability and good practices any chance they get.

Fox Business, September 13, 2017

Equifax hack renews battle over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

In the wake of the Equifax breach, businesses, lawmakers and individuals are grappling with the issue of protecting personal information – and for Congress, that could mean increased regulation and oversight. “Typically the credit reporting agencies like Equifax don’t get the same kind of routine oversight [as banks and financial institutions] … Generally nobody looks at them until something happens,” Scott Vernick, top privacy and cybersecurity expert at Fox Rothschild, told FOX Business. “I don’t think anyone sort of stopped to think about the fact that you only have three credit reporting agencies [and] each of them holds about 200 million records.” In addition to a congressional hearing, Vernick predicts both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will play a larger role in the oversight of credit reporting agencies moving forward, a transition that would potentially secure the future of the CFPB.

Reuters, September 12, 2017

Some U.S. banks already comply with new class action, arbitration rule

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who opposes efforts to dismantle a new rule allowing customers to sue financial companies in class actions, released letters from U.S. bank CEOs in which they declined to defend lobbying against the measure and several said they already comply with it. Warren asked the bank CEOs if they believed the rule should be reversed. “Despite the claims of their paid lobbyists, not a single one of the 16 CEOs I wrote was willing to defend efforts to gut the (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s) pro-consumer arbitration rule,” she said in a statement. The letters to liberal Warren showed Capital One , Bank of America, Ally Financial, T.D. Bank and HSBC North America rarely use mandatory arbitration clauses, where customer must give up the right to sue and agree to take possible future disputes to closed-door mediation as a condition of opening accounts.

The Street, September 12, 2017

Equifax Data Disaster Brings Consumer Bureau Arbitration Rule Into Spotlight

The Equifax Inc. (EFX – Get Report) data breach that left 143 million Americans’ information at risk has thrust the spotlight back onto a consumer protection rule Congressional Republicans are pushing to roll back. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in July finalized a rule that would ban mandatory arbitration clauses that force consumers into arbitration and block them from joining together to file a class-action suit. The move was met with near-immediate pushback from Republicans, who quickly took steps to repeal the rule. But the Equifax data breach might make rolling back the regulation much less politically palatable for the GOP.

Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2017

OPINION: The real outrage isn’t Equifax’s arbitration clause — it’s all the others

Yes, it was slimy for the company to try to deny people their right to sue or to join class-action lawsuits. But no, Equifax was by no means alone in pulling such a stunt. The reality is that many if not most service agreements presented by businesses to consumers contain such a provision, and they get away with it because there’s precious little outrage over this shamelessly unfair practice. “These forced arbitration clauses are everywhere,” said Christine Hines, legislative director for the National Assn. of Consumer Advocates. “But I’m not sure there’s widespread knowledge of it.”

Bankrate, September 12, 2017

Angry at Equifax? Don’t let them take away your right to sue

Arbitration clauses once appeared in both the terms of use for the TrustedID Premier product and for the main Equifax website. This legal jargon requires disputes to be handled between you, the company and a third-party arbitrator — and not before a judge or jury. Consumer groups say forced arbitration blocks people from participating in class-action lawsuits. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued a rule that would make it more difficult for credit bureaus and financial firms to make arbitration mandatory. The U.S. House of Representatives has moved to block the rule’s implementation, scheduled to go into effect later this month. The Senate has not acted.

Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2017

Equifax Lobbied for Easier Regulation Before Data Breach

Equifax Inc. was lobbying lawmakers and federal agencies to ease up on regulation of credit-reporting companies in the months before its massive data breach. Equifax spent at least $500,000 on lobbying Congress and federal regulators in the first half of 2017, according to its congressional lobbying-disclosure reports. Among the issues on which it lobbied was limiting the legal liability of credit-reporting companies. That issue is the subject of a bill that a panel of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the industry, discussed the same day Equifax disclosed the cyberattack that exposed personal financial data of as many as 143 million Americans.

Bloomberg, September 11, 2017

Equifax Hack Is ‘Exhibit A’ in Case for Regulation, Durbin Says

The massive data breach at Equifax Inc. is “exhibit A” on the need for strong U.S. regulation, including higher fines against companies that mishandle consumers’ personal information, second-ranking Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said. “We are duty-bound to step in on behalf of innocent citizens who are going to pay a price,” Durbin said in an interview with Bloomberg News. Equifax last week disclosed a computer breach that may have affected 143 million people — or almost half the U.S. population — revealing Social Security numbers, drivers’ license data and birth dates. The Atlanta-based company now faces multiple state and federal investigations, and a proposed multibillion-dollar class action lawsuit was filed against Equifax. While Durbin said Republicans are loath to regulate, he called the hack “an indictment of our current level of regulation when it comes to this industry and others.”

Los Angeles Times, September 11, 2017

OPINION: Before its massive data breach, Equifax fought to kill a rule allowing victims to sue

This may explain why the laws governing data collection firms have been so weak. As we observed last week, there are almost no laws or regulations worth mentioning that impose stiff penalties for allowing personal data in their possession to get hacked. Only eight states require that consumers be notified within even 90 days of the discovery of a breach. Equifax waited some six weeks after discovering it was hacked before making its announcement. The industry’s campaign against the arbitration rule has been especially telling. Its lo

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Alaska), September 10, 2017

OPINION: Alaska senators must protect those who serve

The CFPB arbitration rule doesn’t even ban arbitration. It simply ensures that service members can band together to go to court to defend their rights and enforce protections against lenders that target our military. The rule has received strong support from The Military Coalition, which represents 5.5 million service members. The Consumer Bureau provides an invaluable service to America’s men and women in uniform and all consumers. Since 2011, the CFPB has provided more than 29 million consumers a total of nearly $12 billion in relief through its enforcement actions. To protect the men and women of America’s armed forces and all Alaskans, our U.S. senators should support the views of the Military Coalition, not Wall Street. They should vote to defend the CFPB and its forced arbitration rule; they should oppose allowing Wells Fargo and other wrongdoers to hide from responsibility.

The Intercept, September 8, 2017

Equifax Is Proving Why Forced Arbitration Clauses Ought to Be Banned, Just Like the CFPB Wants to Do

These arbitration clauses have been deemed so harmful to consumers that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued rules to ban the waiver of class-action rights within them. That rule was finalized in July but doesn’t take effect on contracts until next March. This arbitration clause, in other words, would be illegal if it were presented in consumer contracts in the future. That CFPB rule is now under threat from Congress, and the Equifax controversy is now at the heart of that. Under a law called the Congressional Review Act, Congress has 60 legislative days from the finalizing of an agency rule to formally disapprove of it. Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Congress has used this 14 times to kick out rules they didn’t like. And a disapproval of the CFPB arbitration rule has already passed in the House. However, it has run into some resistance in the Senate. Some Republicans, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have already announced their support for the arbitration rule, and others have wavered. With the Equifax breach showing what arbitration clauses mean in practice, Republicans may find the CFPB rule too hot to touch. “This is just one more example why the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule banning forced arbitration is badly needed to protect the rights of working Americans,” Brown said.

American Banker, September 8, 2017

Equifax breach may kill repeal of CFPB mandatory arbitration rule

The massive breach at Equifax is likely to hurt — and may ultimately doom — efforts by Republicans to overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule banning mandatory arbitration clauses. In order to compensate potential victims of the breach, which compromised the personal data of more than 143 million consumers, Equifax is offering free credit monitoring services through its TrustedID program as protection.

CNBC, September 8, 2017

Were you affected by the Equifax data breach? One click could cost you your rights in court

Equifax is allowing people to sign up on its website for free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring following the disclosure of the data breach, which Equifax said affected 143 million consumers. But the credit monitoring service, through an Equifax company called Trusted ID, has a provision that limits liability to the company, and consumers who sign up for what is billed as a free service will be charged for it after a one-year trial period if they don’t call the company to cancel their subscription. The provisions, buried in the fine print of Trusted ID’s terms of service, added to confusion about how much help consumers are being offered. In a broader set of terms on Equifax’s website, visitors are told they must accept certain terms, including arbitration, before being permitted to register for and purchase any product from its site.

Reuters, September 5, 2017

California on brink of letting customers sue banks

California is one step away from allowing state residents to sue financial institutions for fraud, rather than letting banks force customers to settle disputes in arbitration, after the state legislature gave final approval to a bill inspired by last year’s Wells Fargo scandal. The bill, passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature, now requires the approval of Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who is expected to sign it into law shortly. Under the bill, judges could override contract clauses that require customers to settle disputes through arbitration in cases where a bank commits fraud using customers’ personal information. Mandatory arbitration clauses, which have become standard practice since a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision, make consumers agree not to sue in the future as a condition of purchasing products or services.

USA Today, September 5, 2017

Wells Fargo faces new consumer lawsuit alleging improper mortgage fees

Victor Muniz, a security dispatcher at a Las Vegas casino, recently bought his first home in Sandy Valley, Nev., a small desert community where his parents live. But a new lawsuit filed last week alleges the experience of getting the mortgage from Wells Fargo needed to finance and close on the home was no American dream. The lawsuit alleges Muniz was among many customers victimized by embattled bank’s latest consumer rip off — a system that gouged home borrowers with improper fees to complete the mortgage process. Seeking class-action status on behalf of other Wells Fargo mortgage customers, the lawsuit ultimately could trigger damages that rival the financial fallout from the scandal over unauthorized accounts that has rocked the nation’s third-largest bank by assets since the issue sparked national attention nearly a year ago.

Washington Post, September 5, 2017

Wells Fargo accused of forcing mortgage applicants to pay unwarranted fees

Wells Fargo, the controversy-battered big bank, has a new problem — this one directly affecting mortgage applicants. Last week, a first-time home buyer filed a class-action suit against the company, alleging widespread abuse of a procedure well known to most mortgage borrowers: interest-rate locks. The suit alleges that Wells Fargo engaged in “a systematic effort” to charge unwarranted rate-lock extension fees — sometimes costing thousands of dollars each — to borrowers who should not have been required to pay them. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is investigating the same practices, according to Wells Fargo’s most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The CFPB generally does not confirm or discuss ongoing investigations and declined to do so for this column.

Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2017

OPINION: Even as Wells Fargo scandal deepens, GOP lawmakers push bank deregulation

Meanwhile, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta is weighing Wells’ demand that customers arbitrate disputes over allegedly unfair overdraft practices rather have their day in court. And California and New York are investigating the bank’s recent admission that it forced hundreds of thousands of auto loan borrowers to pay for insurance they didn’t need. Jennifer Dunn, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, told me the bank “is undertaking a thorough review across the company to ensure we are doing everything we can to build a better, stronger bank.” Be that as it may, all these jaw-dropping developments while Congress was gone fishin’ contrast sharply with Republican lawmakers’ repeated declarations that long-suffering banks are hamstrung by too many rules.

Huffington Post, September 4, 2017

OPINION: CFPB Rule Fight Forces Senators to Choose: Military Families or Big Banks

Now, the Senate will soon be asked to decide whether it is better if Americans can enforce consumer protection laws, as the servicemembers in these cases did, or if it’s better to let banks pocket millions of dollars in illegal profits at the expense of those who defend our nation. That’s because, on July 19, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its long-awaited rule that prohibits banks and payday lenders from using forced arbitration clauses to strip consumers of their ability to bring class actions against them. If that rule is permitted to go into effect, all military families, and all American consumers, will be able to join together in a class action lawsuit like the Childresses and others did if they were harmed by widespread illegal conduct in the financial sector, no matter who their lender happens to be. Unfortunately, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the CFPB’s rule under the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to throw out any federal regulation issued within the last sixty days. Big banks want the Senate to follow suit, and pundits suggest that the vote will be close.

St. Louis Today, September 4, 2017

LTE: Arbitration clauses let businesses escape fraud accusations

I wholeheartedly agree with the editorial approving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ban on arbitration clauses that bar the use of consumer fraud class actions (“Fighting for consumers,” Aug. 28). Mark G. Arnold’s criticism of same (“Lawyers, not consumers, benefit from class action cases,” Aug. 29) was both disingenuous and self-serving. While it is true that often the consumer victims receive little from these lawsuits, the reality is that they would receive nothing if the mandatory arbitration clauses are upheld. These clauses are hidden from consumers in the fine print of contracts and websites, are rarely read by the consumer and are never negotiated or negotiable. They constitute a waiver of our constitutionally guaranteed right to a jury trial.

The Gazette (Iowa), September 3, 2017

Debate on mandatory arbitration continues

The CFPB’s executive director, Richard Corday, is not about to see five years of work go down the drain without a fight, and he has taken to speaking engagements and media submissions to rally support for the CFPB’s regulation. In an op-ed column appearing in The New York Times on Aug. 22, Corday points out that banks recently used a class-action lawsuit to stick merchants with credit card losses resulting from data breaches. He goes on to say: “Not only do group lawsuits help consumers recover money they otherwise would forfeit, but they also protect many more consumers by halting and deterring harmful behavior.” And, “by blocking group lawsuits, mandatory arbitration clauses eliminate a powerful means to get justice when a little harm happens to a lot of people.” So there you are. Your government at work – or not, depending on your point of view.

Fox Business, September 2, 2017

Could you be a Wells Fargo account victim? 5 things to do

Wells Fargo faces numerous accusations its employees have engaged in misconduct against customers. The long list includes: opening bogus bank and credit card accounts, charging borrowers for unnecessary auto insurance and modifying mortgages without approval. Now, two federal regulators and the San Francisco Federal Reserve are reportedly looking at the bank’s guaranteed auto protection insurance program. Thousands of consumers who paid off loans in advance may not have received refunds they were owed. Wells Fargo victims should do what they can to get financial relief. Account holders should check bank statements for unauthorized charges. Borrowers — particularly those with auto loans — should look closely at bills and any messages they’ve received from their lender. Here are five things you can do now if you were caught up in the account scandals.

Task and Purpose, September 1, 2017

Why Veterans — And Everyone Else — Need Better Protection From Student Loan Fraud

Students have been trying to sue Corinthian, for example, over its deceptive conduct since at least 2006. But Corinthian, like many other for-profit schools, used fine-print forced arbitration clauses in its student enrollment contracts to have such cases dismissed. Students are instead forced to bring their claims one by one before a private arbitrator – one agreed to by the school. Even if a student wins, the arbitrator has no power to change the school’s future practices or address students in the same situation. Mandatory arbitration agreements are quite common in contracts for car loans and credit cards, but many believe they’re fundamentally unfair in the education sector, since such agreements force students to relinquish their right to sue for damages as a condition of enrollment.

New York Times, August 31, 2017

Wells Fargo’s Testimony Left Some Feeling Shortchanged

Did Wells Fargo mislead the United States Congress during hearings last fall when it characterized its widespread opening of unauthorized bank accounts as a one-off problem in an otherwise clean operation? That question took on greater urgency after Wells issued disturbing new disclosures about its customer dealings. The bank concluded that it had opened as many as 3.5 million unwanted accounts for customers, 1.4 million more than previous estimates. What’s more, Wells admitted a new impropriety: enrolling more than half a million accounts into its online bill pay service without customers’ permission. Even before the disclosures by Wells Fargo, Democrats on both the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee had called for hearings. A letter to Michael D. Crapo, the Idaho Republican who heads the Senate Banking Committee, requested hearings with Timothy J. Sloan, the Wells Fargo chief executive. Signed by 11 Democratic members of the committee, the letter noted the string of disclosures about misconduct at the bank and expressed concern about the bank’s use of forced arbitration clauses to prevent customers from being able to hold the bank to account through lawsuits.

New York Times, August 31, 2017

Republicans Want to Sideline This Regulator. But It May Be Too Popular.

While many federal agencies have begun to loosen the reins on the companies they regulate, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, born out of the Dodd-Frank financial law in 2010, has taken the opposite course. Congress granted it unusually broad authority — and autonomy from the White House and Congress — to both enforce existing federal rules and write new ones, including issuing fines against financial companies. Under Mr. Trump it has openly embraced its mission, cracking down on debt collectors, pushing out a major new financial rule on arbitration and pursuing a flurry of enforcement actions against payday lenders and others. The approach, outlined in emails and other documents obtained through the public records request by The New York Times, comes as the Trump administration has taken an uncharacteristically low-key public stance toward the agency, a prominent blue holdout in a federal regulatory regime newly awash in red. The White House’s restraint was based in part on a pragmatic assessment, according to people familiar with the strategy. At one point, contemplating a high-profile run on the agency, the White House examined polling data from political bellwether states, two people briefed on the matter said. The agency, they concluded, was too popular to pick a public fight with. Republicans in Congress, who have vehemently opposed the agency since its creation, have also been unable to muster enough support to derail its work. Efforts to strike down a rule ordering new consumer protections on prepaid debit cards never made it to a vote in either the House or the Senate. “The public does not share the G.O.P.’s ire toward the agency or its mission,” said Dean Clancy, a Tea Party activist who worked in the White House under President George W. Bush and is now a policy analyst who tracks actions of the consumer bureau. “It is an agency about protecting the little guy, and that is tough to oppose.” The stories of gratitude rounded up by the agency’s staff for Mr. Cordray illustrated its appeal. Among them was a homeowner in Tennessee who got a disputed lien removed from a property, someone in Kentucky who got assistance warding off a debt collector pursuing a medical bill that had been paid, and a person in Pennsylvania who said the agency helped resolve a contested credit card debt.

Politico, August 31, 2017

Trump and DeVos fuel a for-profit college comeback

DeVos is best known for promoting K-12 school choice, but while that agenda stalls in Congress, her highest-profile actions since taking office have involved for-profit colleges. She has moved to scrap regulations that would have cut off federal aid to career college programs where graduates are stuck with high loan debt but relatively low earnings. She also delayed a rule that would have barred the companies from requiring students to resolve complaints through arbitration, rather than a court or class-action lawsuit. Beyond those changes, for-profit colleges are notching wins behind the scenes, as Education Department regulators scale back their enforcement of the industry and decide individual cases in ways that favor the industry.

The Hill, August 31, 2017

Wells Fargo: Nearly twice as many potentially fake accounts than originally thought

Wells Fargo said it opened almost twice as many potentially unauthorized banking and credit card accounts than was originally revealed, according to an independent review of the bank’s sales practices. Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said during a conference call that an outside investigation into the bank’s sales tactics found more than 1.1 million more accounts potentially opened without customer consent, according to CNBC. That brings the total number of unauthorized accounts Wells Fargo branches opened for customers to roughly 3.5 million. The bank insisted in November that customers who paid fees on unauthorized accounts must follow forced arbitration clauses written into those accounts’ contracts. Those clauses ban customers from seeking damages by joining class-action suits. Wells Fargo also reportedly opened Prudential life insurance policies for customers without their consent and charged auto loan customers for insurance they never purchased.

Clarion Ledger, August 30, 2017

Mississippi mother, son part of lawsuit against Wells Fargo over auto insurance

A Mississippi mother and her son are part of one of the initial class-action lawsuits filed against Wells Fargo Bank over allegedly forcing hundred of thousands of auto loan customers to pay for unnecessary and unwanted collateral protection insurance. Dianne Neal and son, Robert Neal, of Macon and Blaine Boone of Parkville, Maryland, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in federal court in California.

Slate, August 30, 2017

Ivanka Just Helped Make It Harder For “Women Who Work” to Expose Wage Discrimination

The news wasn’t a complete surprise, because Trump thinks wage discrimination isn’t a real issue. Four days ago, he issued a memo declaring August 26, the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, “Women’s Equality Day,” as previous presidents have done. “My Administration is committed to fostering an economy where all women can succeed and thrive,” he wrote, praising efforts to help women entrepreneurs and establish universal paid family leave. But he’s previously said that “you’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job,” and “when you have to categorize men and women into a particular group and a particular pay scale, it gets very—because people do different jobs,” implying that the gender and race wage gaps are attributable to poor performance and self-selection into different careers. He’s also repealed rules that forced federal contractors to be transparent about their wages and stay away from forced-arbitration clauses that make it easier for companies to cover up cases of sexual harassment.

St. Louis Today, August 30, 2017

LTE: Lawyers, not consumers, benefit from class action cases

I respectfully disagree with the editorial approving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ban on arbitration clauses that defeat the use of consumer fraud class actions (“Fighting for consumers,” Aug. 28). I have been defending these kinds of claims for 35 years. The only people who make any real money out of a consumer fraud class action are the lawyers. I get paid a nice hourly rate; the plaintiffs’ counsel make millions in contingent fees. A class member is lucky to get $5 or $10.

Bloomberg, August 30, 2017

This Freshman GOP Senator Could Defy Wall Street

Banks have a challenge when Congress returns from summer recess next week. His name is John Neely Kennedy. The freshman Republican senator from Louisiana is one of a handful of lawmakers who could squash the finance industry’s dream of tweaking a key Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulation. So far, he’s not saying whether he will or won’t. The new rule would make it easier for customers to sue financial institutions, and banks have spent millions to keep arbitration as the required venue for dispute resolution instead. Lawmakers have a limited window of time to change the provision, and because the GOP’s Senate majority is slim, Kennedy, a lawyer and former Democrat who pitches himself as a folksy Washington outsider, could be the one to cast the deciding vote. “Senator Kennedy’s vote is very significant,” said Bill Himpler, executive vice president of the American Financial Services Association, which lobbies for consumer-finance companies. “We’re doing everything we can to let Senator Kennedy know how important arbitration is for a lot of companies in the great state of Louisiana.” Kennedy, 65, is a mystery to many on Capitol Hill. His reluctance to get with the GOP program on the arbitration rule has left a lot of bank lobbyists scratching their heads. He exemplifies the challenges facing the so-called political establishment when it comes to herding a new wave of mavericks in the unpredictable era of President Donald Trump.

Des Moines Register, August 29, 2017

Iowa senators uncertain on controversial nursing home rule

Iowa’s two U.S. senators say they’re fighting for the residents of nursing homes, but neither has joined Democratic colleagues in the Senate who are attempting to prevent care facilities from limiting residents’ right to sue for abuse and neglect. Last fall, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services notified all nursing homes that receive federal funding a new rule was being proposed to prevent them from including mandatory arbitration clauses in their admissions contracts with residents. The rule would specifically prohibit the “the use of pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements” in care facilities funded by Medicare and Medicaid. Almost immediately, the American Health Care Association, the nation’s largest nursing home trade associations, challenged the proposed new rule, filing a lawsuit in an effort to shield its members from lawsuits filed by their residents.

Bangor Daily News (Maine), August 28, 2017

OPINION: Maine consumers may lose their right to challenge big banks’ unfair lending practices

If you’re like most people, chances are you’ve signed a bank or credit card agreement without reading the fine print. Not only is the print too small to read, but it is wordy and hard to understand. Even more egregious for consumers in Maine and throughout the country, the legal print you’re likely to ignore often includes language that takes away your rights. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants that to change. That’s why last month, the bureau announced a new rule aimed at protecting the right of Mainers and consumers across the U.S. to hold banks accountable in court.

Greensboro News & Record (North Carolina), August 27, 2017

OPINION: Forced arbitration agreements are unconstitutional

If every nursing home requires a pre-dispute arbitration agreement as a condition of admission, it appears one has no choice but to sign. It is ironic that the Trump administration, with its host of conservative lawmakers who claim to revere the Constitution, could allow the reversal of the rule that banned pre-arbitration agreements. A just society is concerned with protecting the rights of the defenseless. Restore the ban on pre-dispute arbitration agreements used in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Kill the new rule before it kills Grandma.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 27, 2017

EDITORIAL: Mandatory arbitration serves corporate interests. The rest of us are on our own.

The best security for Americans and their money is provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has returned over $12 billion to more than 29 million citizens cheated in bad financial deals since 2008. That success may be exactly why President Donald Trump is trying to dismantle the agency at the precise time the nation’s consumers are most in need of a tough financial watchdog. And rather than back down from congressional Republican pressure, the CFPB, under the direction of Democrat Richard Cordray, is ramping up. The agency’s most recent effort is directed at supporting the right of consumers to group together in court action to fight unfair treatment.

Huffington Post, August 25, 2017

OPINION: The Not-So-Secret War on Consumer Protection

While the public is laser-focused on the fate of healthcare, consumer advocates are watching with horror as Congress works to unravel, piece by piece, many long-standing consumer protections, taking actions that favor big industry over the little guy. With the backing of industry, federal legislators are attacking rules that protect seniors from ripoffs and scams and blocking agencies from using their powers to prevent illegal activity or set sensible safety standards.

Forbes, August 24, 2017

Ex-Uber Engineer To Supreme Court: The Era Of Forced Arbitration Must End

A year and a half after publishing her groundbreaking account of harassment culture at the workplace, former Uber employee Susan J. Fowler is weighing in on the battle over arbitration laws in the country’s highest court. Last week, attorneys for Fowler filed an amicus brief in three high court cases involving companies’ use of arbitration agreements, which prevent a growing number of U.S. workers from engaging in class action suits against their employers. As The Recorder first reported, representatives for Fowler from the San Francisco-based firm Baker Curtis & Schwartz filed the brief on August 16 in support of reining in firms’ ability to require that workers sign arbitration agreements and waive their right to class action.  On behalf of Fowler, whose employment at Uber required such a waiver, the attorneys argue that allowing companies to limit employees’ legal recourse in this way is a violation of federal labor laws. The amicus brief explains, “Class action waivers take from these workers the concerted activity in which they are most likely to engage, and from which they are most likely to benefit: The right to engage in collective litigation.”

The Conversation, August 24, 2017

Why students need better protection from loan fraud

Students have been trying to sue Corinthian, for example, over its deceptive conduct since at least 2006. But Corinthian, like many other for-profit schools, used fine-print forced arbitration clauses in its student enrollment contracts to have such cases dismissed. Students are instead forced to bring their claims one by one before a private arbitrator – one agreed to by the school. Even if a student wins, the arbitrator has no power to change the school’s future practices or address students in the same situation. Mandatory arbitration agreements are quite common in contracts for car loans and credit cards, but many believe they’re fundamentally unfair in the education sector, since such agreements force students to relinquish their right to sue for damages as a condition of enrollment.

New York Times, August 24, 2017

Wells Fargo Wants Lawsuits Tossed in Favor of Arbitration

A group of Wells Fargo customers who say they were victims of unfair overdraft practices want their claims heard in court, but the bank wants the disputes handled through arbitration. Class-action lawsuits filed around the country have accused Wells Fargo of changing the order of debit card transactions — from highest dollar amount to lowest dollar amount — to unfairly increase the number of transactions eligible for overdraft penalties.

Boston Globe, August 24, 2017

OPINION: Speak out now for your right to join a class-action lawsuit

When companies screw up, we can sue them. And when their mistakes affect a large group of people, consumers can get together and file a class-action suit. In theory, at least. Increasingly, business are using contract language that bans consumers from banding together to file class action suits. These so-called “forced arbitration” clauses require customers to submit to an arbitration process in which a professional arbitrator — often chosen by the company who wrote the contract — decides the issue, rather than a judge or jury. In 2015, General Mills Inc. even tried to make mandatory arbitration a condition of downloading coupons on its brands’ websites. The practice is alarming to consumer advocates. Customer complaints rarely have high enough financial stakes to make it feasible for an individual to sue. Removing the ability to join together in class action suits prevents them from holding big businesses accountable, advocates say.

Sacramento Bee, August 23, 2017

Forced arbitration hurts you and protects corporations. Here’s how to fix it.

Nearly every day we see another declaration by Donald Trump – mostly in 140 characters with exclamation points – that impacts the lives of Americans from California to the Carolinas. When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on July 10 adopted new protections for bank customers nationwide in the aftermath of the Wells Fargo fraud scandal, Trump and Republicans in Congress vowed to kill the new consumer protection measure, if not the whole CFPB itself. It’s a case of favoring profits over people. The protections are designed to tame a proliferating corporate practice: Banks use “forced arbitration” to push consumers out of court and into a secretive private arbitration system tilted against the underdog.

New York Times, August 22, 2017

OPINION: Let Consumers Sue Companies

In truth, by blocking group lawsuits, mandatory arbitration clauses eliminate a powerful means to get justice when a little harm happens to a lot of people. It is the height of hypocrisy for companies to say they’re helping consumers by closing off the very same legal option they use when they’ve been wronged. A cherished tenet of our justice system is that nobody should escape accountability for breaking the law. Our rule restores consumers’ legal right to stand up for themselves and have their day in court without having to wait on the government to act. That is an idea everyone should support.

Daily Progress (Virginia), August 22, 2017

LTE: Consumers need protection

Big Wall Street banks have taken advantage of us for too long, and many Senate Republicans are working to get rid of a new rule put in place by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that allows consumers to band together in class-action lawsuits against predatory and unfair banking institutions. Since it was founded five years ago in response to the devastation caused by the financial meltdown, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has worked tirelessly to defend hardworking Americans by taking action against financial bad actors and arming consumers with the tools they need to defend themselves against predatory lenders. The people have a champion in the CFPB, and the time has come for the people to stand up for our defender by letting out senators in Washington know that we support the bureau under the leadership of Director Richard Cordray.

NPR, August 21, 2017

Under Trump Rule, Nursing Home Residents May Not Be Able To Sue After Abuse

Another Obama-era regulation is on the Trump administration’s chopping block — this one about nursing homes. The Obama administration’s rule would’ve made it easier for nursing home residents to sue for negligence or abuse. But the Trump administration is proposing to replace that rule. And the new one could make it almost impossible for nursing home residents to get their day in court. That’s because frequently new nursing home residents are handed an agreement to go to arbitration instead of suing if something goes wrong. But Wendy York, an elder law attorney, says that being admitted to a nursing home is often a traumatic event and not a good time for making decisions.

New York Times, August 20, 2017

LTE: Why Arbitration Is a Rigged System

Arbitration and class action waiver clauses effectively immunize companies from illegal and fraudulent conduct. Virtually every sizable company has such clauses. There are several reasons that companies have these provisions: 1) arbitrations are almost impossible for customers to pursue because they are too expensive (class actions allow costs to be shared over thousands of wronged individuals); 2) arbitrations do not allow discovery of the institution’s internal records (as lawsuits do); 3) arbitrations are often required to be held in a city far from the wronged party; and 4) the arbitrators tend to favor the institutions, which can offer them repeat business. This is a perfect example of what many have called a system rigged against the average person.

The Hill, August 17, 2017

Uber wins ruling allowing it to keep customers from suing in court

Embattled ride-hailing giant Uber scored a court victory when a federal appeals court ruled in favor of allowing the ride-hailing company to keep its users from filing lawsuits in court against it. Uber has sought to force customer disputes to be resolved in arbitration instead of in court, citing an arbitration commitment in its user agreement.

Huffington Post, August 17, 2017

OPINION: More Bank Follies

Under current practices, individuals defrauded by bank practices, such as those undertaken by Wells Fargo, cannot bring class action lawsuits, but are forced into arbitration by virtue of the agreements they signed when entering into transactions with the bank. The rule proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would ban compulsory arbitration. Once it became effective it was estimated it would cost banks approximately $1 billion a year. That seems to many observers like a lot of money, but banks are believed to have roughly $171 billion in profits annually, so the rule is not as onerous as it might at first seem.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Montana), August 17, 2017

LTE: Rep. Gianforte working to protect fraudulent banks

Our new congressman Greg Gianforte has just arrived in D.C., but he is already hard at work protecting fraudulent big banks. Remember last year, when it came out that Wells Fargo had been defrauding thousands of its customers? Those defrauded customers were not allowed to sue Wells Fargo together. This was because the bank’s mandatory arbitration clause prevented them from joining a class action suit. The arbitration clause applied, even if the bank had committed fraud. This spring the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection proposed a new rule to make that illegal. The rule would ensure that if a bunch of customers were defrauded–even if the individual amounts were small–that they could join together and sue the bank. But, that rule might not go into effect. Congress is working on repealing it. The repeal has already passed the House (HJ RES 111). Our newly minted representative, Greg Gianforte voted for it.

Washington Examiner, August 17, 2017

CFPB’s new federal rule on payday lending expected soon

The rule’s advocates draw encouragement from the apparent viability of another major rule from the bureau. Last month, the agency finalized a rule that would prevent banks from including clauses in contracts that steer customers to private arbitration rather than class-action suits. A Congressional Review Act challenge to the rule sailed through the House but hasn’t moved in the Senate. Consumer groups reckon that the payday rule, which would affect a much smaller swath of the industry, has even better odds than the arbitration rule.

Banking Technology, August 16, 2017

US Senator questions big banks on CFPB arbitration

Sen. Warren is requesting information on the banks’ stances on the arbitration rule, along with data on the firms’ use of arbitration clauses in consumer agreements and the outcomes of arbitration proceedings. She has asked for responses “because Republicans in Congress have introduced a resolution to reverse the CFPB rule using the fast-track Congressional Review Act [CRA] process”. The House already passed its CRA resolution (HJR 111) to repeal the arbitration rule, but its companion resolution in the Senate (SJR 47) may be tougher to get through, particularly because a number of Republicans remain undecided on the issue.

The Times (Illinois), August 14, 2017

LTE: Kinzinger likes arbitration

The CFPB has written rules about mandatory arbitration. The CFPB is trying to do away with arbitration. The CFPB is trying to save the American consumer. Other than banks, Payday loan stores and credit card companies, Adam Kinzinger LIKES arbitration. You can tell Adam Kinzinger likes arbitration, since he voted to do away with the CFPB in June. Under the name of the Financial Choice Act of 2017, Adam Kinzinger wants to give you, the consumer, NO CHOICE in your own financial dealings. As an aside, Adam Kinzinger doesn’t think that your financial adviser, if you are lucky enough to need/have one, should have your best interests in mind. No, the financial adviser should do his best to use YOUR money to make himself rich. Buying and selling, churning. Thanks, Adam Kinzinger.

Bloomberg BNA, August 14, 2017

Wells Fargo Scandal Helps Consumer Advocates in CFPB Rule Fight

Wells Fargo’s latest scandal is providing consumer groups new ammunition as they try to save a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule banning companies from using mandatory arbitration clauses. Disclosures last month that the bank may have billed as many as 500,000 customers for unneeded auto insurance is just the latest scandal for the megabank, which last year disclosed it had opened millions of unauthorized deposit and credit-card accounts. Consumer groups are invoking Wells Fargo as they seek to persuade a handful of Republican senators to help defeat a potential September vote on a resolution blocking the arbitration rule.

The Journal Times (Wisconsin), August 14, 2017

EDITORIAL: Nursing-home residents should retain legal rights

You have the right to “your day in court,” as the saying goes. When it comes to civil matters, the Seventh Amendment declares it a constitutional right: “In Suits at common law … the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.” There’s no circumstance under which you should obligated to waive your right to go to court to seek justice. Certainly not when that circumstance is the effort to get a loved one admitted to a nursing home. For that reason, we’re dismayed at President Donald Trump’s administration’s plan to do away with a rule, enacted by President Barack Obama’s administration, that ensured nursing home clients’ right to litigate.

Arkansas Business, August 14, 2017

OPINION:Whose Freedom Wins?

When Sen. Tom Cotton’s summer newsletter arrived, I read it with concern. Our senator now wants to liberate us from Consumer Protection Bureau rules that limit arbitration clauses in bank contracts. He claims they treat “Arkansans like helpless children, incapable of making business decisions in their own best interest.” I am not a helpless child. I am a Harvard Law-trained contracts attorney, often with no leverage in America’s rigged and intentionally opaque standard form contract system. I read small print and know bad deals when I see them. Unfortunately, our system is carefully arranged to force me to accept them without negotiating. Whose freedom is Sen. Cotton protecting? Certainly not mine, nor that of the vast majority of Americans.

Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman (Alaska), August 11, 2017

Forced arbitration and a right worth fighting for

As a veteran, I am proud to have helped protect the freedoms so zealously guarded for us by our Founders.  Another guarantor of those liberties is the right to our day in court – one especially vital to today’s servicemembers who are so often taken advantage of by financial institutions. Today, the right to our day in court is in danger because of actions under consideration by the U.S. Senate on the issue of powerful banks and “forced arbitration.”

CBS News, August 11, 2017

Trump Organization Employees Forced to Agree Not to Sue the Company

Employees at Trump Organization properties have been told they must give up their right to sue their employer or else they will lose their jobs.  This arrangement is called a mutual arbitration agreement, and the document was obtained by CBS News. The document was presented to all employees, including gardeners, housekeepers and manicurists.  The document was paired with a mandatory gag order obtained by CBS News that required all Trump employees to keep any information, pictures or opinions of the Trump family confidential.  Employees were also told that if they didn’t sign the confidentiality agreement, they would lose their jobs. The arbitration agreement states that “Arbitration is intended to provide a less time- consuming, less expensive, and less complicated means of settling disputes.” Because arbitration takes place behind closed doors, the number and nature of employee complaints against the president’s company will never become public.  The agreement also requires Trump employees to give up their rights to join a class action lawsuit. “It is part of a major trend to privatize justice,” said Deborah Soltis, a partner at the litigation firm Kiyonaga & Soltis who has been practicing for 25 years.

The State (South Carolina), August 10, 2017

LTE: Serve South Carolinians, Not Big Banks

By now, most Americans have heard about Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal that led to as many as 3.5 million unauthorized bank accounts (more than 23,000 here in South Carolina) and damaged people’s credit scores across the country. Last week, we learned that Wells Fargo has also been running an auto insurance scam. And now, Congress is bending over backwards to help the banks and other bad actors get away with their crimes. Since 2009, only 215 consumers nationwide have filed claims in arbitration against Wells Fargo, and just one claim has been filed in South Carolina. Our senators have a chance to put South Carolinians ahead of Wall Street banks by rejecting efforts to overturn the arbitration rule. We can’t afford to lose the power to hold corporate wrongdoers accountable. I hope our senators agree.

Tribune-Review (Pennsylvania), August 10, 2017

LTE: Unethical Clauses

Forced arbitration, or putting a clause in a contract that presents consumers from suing companies for wrongdoing, is unethical. This practice eliminates the power of individuals to go through with class-action lawsuits if they’ve been taken advantage of. Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released new guidelines that bring attention to these clauses and return the right to sue to the consumer. However, Wall Street banks strongly oppose this rule, as does U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, likely because he received over half a million dollars from the financial services industry during the 2016 election cycle. Corporations are not people. Instead of participating in greedy practices, Rothfus should stand with his constituents and listen to the needs of his own district.

New York Times, August 10, 2017

EDITORIAL: Closing the Courthouse Door

The Trump administration is moving to deny Americans their day in court when they have been wronged. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services want to reverse an Obama-era regulation that bars most nursing homes from forcing residents to agree to resolve disputes in private arbitration, instead of in court. The Department of Education recently announced that it was working to reverse an Obama-era rule that prevents most for-profit colleges and other schools from enforcing arbitration agreements when resolving loan disputes by students. Now, congressional Republicans are getting into the act by attacking a new rule, issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that will let Americans bring class-action lawsuits against banks instead of being forced into arbitration. Without the rule, which is scheduled to apply to transactions next year, banks could continue to profit from abusive products and practices without ever facing a court challenge, and aggrieved customers would continue to be shunted into arbitration. If Senate Republicans, once again blinded by their antipathy to President Barack Obama, vote to repeal this rule, they will join their House colleagues and the Trump administration in closing the courthouse door to vulnerable, victimized and defrauded Americans.

The Street, August 10, 2017

Warren Calls Out CEOs Behind Lobbyists on Consumer-Protection Rule

Elizabeth Warren is trying to flush out the CEOs behind big-bank lobbyists. The Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts sent letters on Thursday, Aug. 10, to the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and 15 other banks and financial firms demanding to know their position on a new rule announced last month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a press release. Lobbyists representing big banks have condemned the rule, but CEOs who preside over the industry have “remained silent” on the matter, she said in the press release. According to the CFPB, the new rule bans banks and credit-card providers from forcing customers to go through arbitration hearings when they have a grievance, instead of banding together to file class-action lawsuits. Warren’s effort to expose the power and money behind lobbyists echoes President Donald Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp,” a reference to the special interests that bog down legislation and good government.

Palm Beach Post (Florida), August 9, 2017

OPINION: Banks’ Overdraft Fees Shouldn’t Put the Squeeze On You

Thanks to a number of lawsuits dating back to at least 2009, many banks sought to increase overdraft revenue by manipulating the sequence in which withdrawals were taken from their customers’ accounts. By reordering the purchases from highest to lowest, banks maximized overdraft penalties and generated grossly excessive fees from the accounts of some of their most vulnerable customers. Many banks settled these cases for a total of more than $1 billion combined. Wells Fargo, on the other hand, refused. Its tactic, so far unsuccessful, has been to try to force its customers into a private forced arbitration proceeding that would result in no accountability, while keeping the truth hidden from public view. Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after years of study, has issued a rule that will ban banks from using forced arbitration clauses. At the same time, the use of forced arbitration clauses by big banks continues to grow with devastating consequences for consumers.

Idaho Statesman, August 9, 2017

OPINION: Crapo Should Try to Help Idahoans, Not Predatory Lenders and Banks

Our senator, Mike Crapo, has thrown his lot in with Wells Fargo and predatory lenders instead of veterans and ordinary Americans. I don’t know any other way to put it. Of all the things Sen. Crapo could spend his time on in Washington, he now wants to take away a vital consumer protection right that gives ordinary Americans a shot in court against shady loan sharks or those Wells Fargo banks you can find all over Idaho. Sen. Crapo is actively fighting to overturn a rule that ended the unfair practice of forced arbitration — a tactic devised by well-paid corporate attorneys for Wall Street banks, payday lenders and other shady actors to block consumers from challenging illegal behavior in court.

Billings Gazette (Montana), August 9, 2017

LTE: CFPB Rule Won’t Hurt You

Unless you operate a bank, or are a payday lender or another financial service provider that commits widespread wrongdoing, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new rule reining in the use of forced arbitration in financial contracts with class action bans won’t harm you. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce would like for you to believe otherwise, but they’re backing big corporations. For ordinary, law-abiding businesses, this rule helps level the playing field by taking away larger institutions’ “get out of jail free” cards. For our customers, it means an opportunity to hold wrongdoers accountable before a judge or jury that can view the sum of the misconduct and rule on behalf of all who were harmed. People like me who want enforcement focused on bad actors should be fans of the CFPB rule. I hope Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte will work alongside Sen. Tester to protect the CFPB and Montanans.

Atlanta Journal Constitution, August 9, 2017

Elderly may be blocked from suing nursing homes for neglect, abuse

Cheryl L. Bishof wrote that she wanted to file a lawsuit after her husband died in January in a skilled nursing facility. “He died from sepsis caused by a bedsore that was discovered too late and then improperly managed,” her letter says. But an attorney she consulted told her she couldn’t have her day in court. The nursing home contract she had signed on her husband’s behalf included a binding arbitration clause. Her complaint would have to be settled by negotiation through a arbitrator, not a judge or jury.

The Hill, August 8, 2017

16 States, DC Push Trump Admin to Protect Right to Sue Nursing Homes

The District of Columbia and 16 states are pushing the Trump administration to protect nursing home residents’ right to take facilities to court over alleged abuse, neglect and sexual assault. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and state attorneys general for California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington sent comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) opposing its proposal to reverse coarse on an Obama-era rule that banned nursing homes from putting language in resident contracts that require disputes to be settled by a third-party arbitrator rather than a court.

The Columbian (Washington), August 8, 2017

LTE: Arbitration proposal is misguided

In my law practice, I found that arbitration worked basically in two types of situations. One is where the dispute was fairly simple. The other is in larger disputes where the parties were in an equal position of power. This proposed rule would apply to cases of abuse and neglect. Anyone who thinks a 90-year-old in a wheelchair is equal in power to the facility has been visiting the cannabis store too often.

Consumer Affairs, August 8, 2017

U.S. Senators ask Trump administration to reconsider its stance on forced arbitration agreements

In their letter, the senators argue that forced arbitration clauses “stack the deck against residents and their families who face a wide range of potential harms, including physical abuse and neglect, sexual assault, and even wrongful death at the hands of those working in and managing long-term care facilities.”

They explain that the clauses do not give residents justice, but only funnel all of their legal claims into a resolution system that is fixed in favor of the nursing home industry. Additionally, they say that long-term care facilities often shield themselves from responsibility and public scrutiny with these agreements by covering up their bad practices. As a result, more seniors are placed in these facilities and subsequently abused as well.

“With Medicare and Medicaid spending over $82 billion on nursing home care in 2015, prospective residents their families and the public deserve greater accountability and transparency from these facilities, not less,” the senators said.

First Coast News, NBC12-WTLV (Florida) August 7, 2017

Nursing Home Advocates Family Members in Favor of Lawsuit and Opposed to Forced Arbitration

The nursing home community is a vulnerable population. It’s a society of seniors who have lost their independence, and must now depend on someone in a nursing home. “Our loved ones are there and we need to hold them accountable,” said Paris Hurley. Hold them accountable for the wrong situations patients and family members may encounter. The Nursing Home Abuse Center states more than 44 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing a rule change that would make family members of a loved one go to arbitration instead of the courts. “Family members should have the right to sue nursing homes,” said Steve Watrel. Arbitration clauses are standard in nursing home contracts, but Attorney Steve Watrel said they’re hardly ever explained. Watrel specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect cases; he said his patients and their family members should treat the arbitration clause as an option.

Common Dreams, August 7, 2017

Why on Earth Is Trump Attacking Nation’s Nursing Home Population? Forbes, August 7, 2017

With Monday the last day for the public to weigh in on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal to ditch an Obama-era rule prohibiting use of forced arbitration “ripoff clauses” in nursing home admission agreements, lawmakers and advocacy groups are trying to draw attention to the effort and also filing official objections to the rule with the agency.

The Hill, August 7, 2017

Senate Dems push Trump admin to protect nursing home residents’ right to sue

The senators argue that these clauses, known to lawyers as pre-dispute arbitration agreements, “stack the deck against residents and their families” and prohibit them from suing over alleged physical abuse and neglect, sexual assault, or wrongful death. “These clauses prevent many of our country’s most vulnerable individuals from seeking justice in a court of law, and instead funnel all types of legal claims, no matter how egregious, into a privatized dispute resolution system that is often biased toward the nursing home,” they wrote. “As a result, victims and their families are frequently denied any accountability for clear instances of wrongdoing.”

Forbes, August 7, 2017

You May Lose Rights To Sue Nursing Homes, If Obama’s Rule Is Overturned

Over 75 consumer groups have banded together to oppose changes to Obama’s rule. The Fair Arbitration Now (FAN) Coalition argued on their web site that retaining the right to sue is important protection for consumers.

Consumerist, August 7, 2017

31 Senators Ask Trump Administration To Not Strip Nursing Home Residents, Families Of Their Legal Rights

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the U.S. have faced increasing criticism for shoddy care and bad business practices. At the same time, many of these facilities have begun using contractual language that explicitly prohibits residents or their loved ones from filing lawsuits when things go wrong. Now dozens of senators are calling on the Trump administration to rethink its decision to let this practice continue.

Fox Business, August 6, 2017

GOP Effort to Overturn Arbitration Rule at Risk From Republican Defectors

A Republican-backed effort to overturn a rule making it easier for consumers to sue banks has hit a snag: the Senate. CFPB Director Richard Cordray, an Obama-administration appointee, pressed ahead with the rule despite opposition from Trump administration banking officials and Congress. Republican lawmakers are targeting the CFPB rule with a legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act. However, support in the Senate is uncertain. No Democrats are likely to back the effort, and Republicans, with their slim majority, can’t afford to lose more than two GOP votes. Several Republican senators have expressed reservations about voting to overturn the regulation, worried they may be portrayed as siding with banks and against consumers.

Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2017

On People’s Right to Sue, Trump’s Hypocrisy Matches that of Business

President Trump has been party to nearly 4,100 lawsuits over the last three decades. About half the time he was the one doing the suing; the other half he was the one being sued. But what makes Trump a complete hypocrite on this score — and aligns him with the business world — is that although he’s never hesitated to use the legal system to protect his own interests, he’s denied his employees and campaign workers the same right, requiring instead that they take any disputes to private arbitration. This is worth noting in light of Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager and current advisor, taking to the airwaves the other day to call on the president’s new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to sack the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. What’s really going on here has more to do with Cordray having recently announced a rule that would make it easier for consumers to band together in class-action lawsuits against financial firms. If Trump were half the populist he makes himself out to be, he’d embrace the CFPB’s rule, which says a mandatory arbitration clause can’t be used to deny customers of financial firms their right to join class-actions. However, Trump clearly has no interest in a level playing field.

Portland Press-Herald (Maine), August 4, 2017

LTE: Contract rule would help consumers, won’t hurt most businesses

For ordinary law-abiding businesses, this rule helps level the playing field by taking away larger institutions’ “get out of jail free” cards. For our customers, it means an opportunity to hold wrongdoers accountable before a judge or jury that can view the sum of the misconduct and rule on behalf of all who were harmed.

The Hill, August 4, 2017

OPINION: The House Recently Sided with Big Banks Over Consumers

The careful process that the CFPB relied on to develop this rule stands in stark contrast to the one that Congress is set to rely on to repeal it. In effect, the CRA short-circuits the normal process of democracy, allowing Congress to pass a special kind of bill known as a “resolution of disapproval” to repeal recently completed regulations without committee hearings, floor debates, conference committees, and most notably, the now-standard 60-vote threshold in the Senate – the very procedures meant to ensure that legislation is carefully vetted and accountable to the people. To make matters worse, if Congress passes the resolution, the CRA further prohibits the CFPB from instituting a similar rule addressing forced arbitration clauses unless Congress gives it explicit authority to do so sometime in the future. If this CRA resolution takes effect, it’s clear who the losers will be: ordinary Americans and small businesses. Financial giants like big banks and credit card companies will be the big winners. They can continue to engage in illegal practices that take a few dollars here and there from consumers without worrying about real accountability. Thanks to the volume of business these large corporations do, that will add up quickly.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 4, 2017

OPINION: Forced Arbitration Benefits Wall Street Giants, Not Consumers

Certain elected members of Congress from Pennsylvania have landed a punch on the nose of Americans who need economic relief. And they’re doing it on behalf of the big Wall Street banks that gave us a financial crisis and a searing recession, to boot. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, want to tear down a common-sense rule that simply restores to American consumers the basic right to have their day in court against corporations that defraud them. The House approved the rollback plan two weeks ago; the Senate timetable is not set. Some 79,000 Pennsylvanians may have been victimized by Wells Fargo’s fake accounts, and thus the bank’s forced arbitration clauses. We may never know exactly how many. Mr. Toomey was full of election-year outrage when the Wells Fargo scandal broke last year, brimming with indignation that Wells Fargo would do such a thing. He called the practices “unbelievable.” We agree. But if Mr. Toomey gets his way, not one single customer of future bank frauds — and they will come; they always do — would be able to seek redress in court. Pennsylvania needs elected officials who look out for the public interest, not for the bottom line of Wells Fargo. Mr. Toomey, Mr. Rothfus: Please don’t deny us our day in court.

Nevada News and Views, August 4, 2017

If Congress Won’t Protect Us from Wells Fargo, then at Least Get Out of the Way

This is fraud on a massive scale with significant potential harm to the victims that, individually, is almost impossible to quantify even if the victims want to make a big stink about it. The problem is, buried in the fine print of Wells Fargo’s agreements for opening a bank account or obtaining a credit card, you are banned from suing them. It’s called a “forced arbitration” clause.  And even if you somehow miraculously notice it, the average person has absolutely no idea whatsoever what the heck it means.  Well, it means you can’t sue the bank that fraudulently opened a checking account or credit card in your name without your knowledge or permission.

The Hill, August 3, 2017

OPINION: Class-action lawsuits critical to shedding light on bank fraud

Just two weeks after consumers got crucial legal rights restored by a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the U.S. House of Representatives voted July 25 to strip consumers of the ability to join together and hold large financial institutions accountable in court. Now it is up to the Senate to decide whether to move forward with repeal. Though the CFPB rule is based on a congressional directive and five years of careful study, its opponents have rallied around a claim that the agency’s own findings show consumers on average receive greater relief in arbitration than class-action lawsuits. This claim is enormously misleading — and a shaky basis for congressional action on the rule.

The Shriver Brief, August 3, 2017

Congress Should Stand on the Side of Everyday Consumers–Not Big Banks

While wealthy companies and their lobbyists recently have made headway in undermining consumers’ rights, a few things are still working for everyday people. Polling shows that the CFPB’s rule targeting forced arbitration is popular, with three quarters of likely voters supporting the CFPB and its mission, and two-thirds of those voters in favor of the arbitration rule.

Chicago Sun-Times, August 3, 2017

EDITORIAL: Congress Should Jump at Chance to Side with Consumers

To counteract that, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau drew up a rule to prevent banks and other financial companies from forcing customers with disputes to go to arbitration, a one-sided process that often costs more than the amount in dispute. But the U.S. House has voted along party lines to repeal the rule, and it is unclear whether Senate Republicans will follow suit. They shouldn’t. Too many people have been victims of financial schemes. They need more protection, not less. The independent CFPB rankles some members of Congress, who are trying to weaken it. The arbitration rule shows why we need a strong CFPB. No other federal regulators took the consumers’ side on this issue. But the fine print in these cases hurts consumers, who may not even realize what they have agreed to. The Consumer Finance Protection Board took a necessary step to protect average Americans.

Tribune-Review (Pennsylvania), August 2, 2017

LTE: Rothfus vs. US

Allegheny County’s own U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, wants to eliminate a crucial consumer safeguard, putting the needs of big banks before the needs of families. In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a new rule to empower consumers by banning forced-arbitration clauses, which ban class-action lawsuits. Banks slip these clauses into our contracts to make sure they can’t be held accountable for wrongdoing, because they know individual consumers stand a slim chance in forced arbitration proceedings. The banks were fuming and wanted immediate response from their allies. Who did they look to? Rothfus (who received more than $500,000 in campaign contributions from the financial services industry) has introduced a resolution to undo this new protection.

The Hill, August 2, 2017

OPINION: 3 Big Lies Bank Lobbyists Peddle to Protect Corporate Scoundrels

I’ve been in Washington a long time. I am used to countering distorted claims from the phalanx of special interest lobbyists that you are forced to climb over everywhere you go. But I am particularly appalled by their arguments against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new arbitration rule. The rule, which the House of Representatives voted to repeal last week, prohibits bank account, payday loan and other financial contracts from taking away our day in court through fine-print forced arbitration clauses containing bans on class-action lawsuits. There are three big lies being pushed by lobbyists

Miami Herald, August 2, 2017

OPINION: Banks; Overdraft Fees Shouldn’t Put the Squeeze on you Just Because You’re Broke

Financial institutions charge large fees when a customer’s checking account doesn’t have enough money for a purchase but the bank pays the transaction anyway.  In August, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear an appeal from Wells Fargo after a court previously denied the bank’s attempts to compel arbitration. At the same time, the use of forced arbitration clauses by big banks continues to grow with devastating consequences for consumers. Forced arbitration prevents consumers from banding together (in proceedings such as class actions) to take on big institutions like Wells Fargo. The bank knows a consumer is unlikely to pursue an arbitration proceeding over tens or even hundreds of dollars, especially when the arbitration process itself is so stacked against the customer. So without class actions, the bank has far less fear of being held accountable. The rule will not apply to pending cases like the overdraft litigation against Wells Fargo, but if this CFPB rule is not reversed by Congress or the Trump Administration, it will level the playing field for the future and serve as a healthy deterrent for banks thinking about taking advantage of their customers. The 11th Circuit has the opportunity to prevent Wells Fargo from opting out of legal accountability. And the CFPB rule will ensure that no bank may do so in the future.

Consumer Affairs, August 1, 2017

State Officials Join Fight to Preserve Consumers’ Right to Sue

The House passed what’s called a “Joint Resolution of Disapproval” that would nullify the CFPB’s rule under the Congressional Review Act. Various state attorneys general and the heads of state consumer protection agencies have signed a letter to Senate leaders, asking them to oppose the resolution. They argue that consumers should have the right to take their claims against financial institutions to court. “Banks and Wall Street financial institutions have huge advantages over consumers,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. “The Arbitration Rule at least allows customers to go to court when they have been cheated. Congress should stand up for consumers, not bow down to Wall Street.” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says state officials have seen consumer abuses up close, helping consumers to fight back against companies that bury tricky terms in the fine print.

Quartz, August 1, 2017

Will Donald Trump Preserve the Secret Courts Banks Use to Dodge their Customers’ Complaints?

In a summer not wracked by political disarray and global conflict, Washington might be focused on the billion-dollar battle brewing between the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the financial industry. Last month, CFPB director Richard Cordray, appointed by president Barack Obama, ruled that financial institutions could no longer use arbitration provisions in contracts to block their customers from filing class-action lawsuits.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 31, 2017

OPINION: Marine Corps Vet Based in Arkansas Disagrees with Sen. Tom Cotton Decision

The lenders, big banks, and huge corporate employers take away the constitutional rights of military and millions of other Americans to go to court. Corporations also tell their own customers that they can’t band together against them in class actions. Instead, individuals must go to a secretive process called arbitration, run by a private arbitrator who makes the decisions and likely receives repeat business from the big corporations. It is as unfair as it seems. This is an un-American way for us–military, civilians, and big business–to civilly resolve disputes. The U.S. Constitution provides the right to access open, public courts in our state and federal systems. And we should not be denied the right to use them. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a rule to restore these rights for military members and all consumers in the American marketplace. The rule would prevent lenders, big banks, and other providers of financial services and products from barring their customers from banding together in court. Unfortunately, Senator Cotton is trying to repeal it. The rule may be analogous to one aspect of military duties–restoring the rights of citizens. Here, the bureau is simply giving back the American right that has been taken away in the corporate fine print.

The Reflector (North Carolina), July 31, 2017

OPINION: Jones Stood Up for Consumers    

North Carolinians need to know that when protections for our citizens and military members from predatory lending was in jeopardy, Congressman Walter Jones was there. Then, Rep. Jones voted against a resolution that would strike down new rules that would restore our right to join in court and hold lenders accountable for misconduct and wrongdoing, instead of being forced to take the matter one by one to an arbitrator picked by the lenders themselves. While Jones stood on the side of consumers, many members of Congress, including several from North Carolina, continue to side with predatory lenders instead. The CFPB’s arbitration rule is the latest example of why we need a strong consumer agency that stops harmful financial practices. Financial companies bury clauses in the fine print of agreements that deny Americans the freedom to seek justice through our court system instead of a process rigged against them — secretive, without the right of appeal, and often with the arbitrator relying on the company for repeat business. Protecting and building family wealth depends on our public leaders standing up for them. Congressman Jones deserves to be recognized for showing the courage of his convictions and voting against legislation that would weaken consumer protection.

Washington Examiner, July 31, 2017

OPINION: Republicans Beware: Your Voters Like Tough Rules on Wall Street

Republican voters — in line with the mood of the country — believe in the importance of tough, effective enforcement of the rules on Wall Street. They don’t like predatory lending, or banks that deny Americans their day in court. And they get nervous when their elected officials start messing with the reforms Congress passed after the financial crisis in 2008. How about forced arbitration? This fine print in your checking account contract or credit card agreement that robs you of your right to go to court in certain circumstances if you have been defrauded by your bank. It doesn’t go down well with Republicans, who also back a new consumer bureau rule banning forced arbitration. Republicans who once cast a skeptical eye on big finance became defenders of Wall Street in Congress. The story of how it happened is a long one, with twists and turns that need not have ended where we are. But they did. With the evidence, polling and electoral, pointing toward an American public that wants to see a firm hand on Wall Street, Republicans would be well-advised to get on the right side of history.

Alaska Dispatch News, July 31, 2017

LTE: Forced arbitration is a loser

Buried in the fine print of most financial service contracts, (including but not limited to your credit card agreement) lies a “ripoff” clause known as forced arbitration. Signing the contract means you forfeit your right to a day in court should a dispute with your bank or lender arise. Instead, you are forced into a secretive system where the arbitrator need not follow the facts or the law, and there is no appeal.

Fairbanks News-Miner (Alaska) July 30, 2017

OPINION: Alaskans Harmed By Financial Misconduct Deserve Remedies

A new rule will restore Alaskans’ rights in court when they are harmed by financial misconduct — such as the Wells Fargo scandal that resulted in 5,970 or more fake accounts in Alaska and millions across the country. Forced arbitration is not a cheaper way to resolve disputes. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free-card that blocks people from justice at all. Companies know that people don’t have the time or resources to fight small or complicated claims alone, so those cases don’t get brought. The sinister combination of a forced arbitration clause with a class-action ban prevents a judge or an arbitrator from holding a company fully accountable when it harms thousands or millions of people. Forced arbitration clauses can deny our military their day in court when lenders violate their rights under the Service members Civil Relief Act. Banks and auto lenders have frequently failed to give service members relief from foreclosures, repossessions, and high-interest rates while they are deployed. Some relief from this unjust system will come when the new CFPB rule goes into effect next year — if Congress lets it. But lobbyists for Wall Street banks and predatory lenders are gearing up to block the rule. I hope that Alaska’s senators and representatives agree with me that, when companies like Wells Fargo commit widespread violations of the law, we deserve our day in court to hold them accountable.

Richland Source (Ohio), July 30, 2017

OPINION: Sherrod Brown: Protecting Ohioans from Wall Street Scams

Ohio’s consumer cop, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is trying to put a stop to this shady practice used by predatory payday lenders and big Wall Street banks. In July, the Consumer Protection Bureau finalized a rule that would block financial institutions from using forced arbitration to stop customers from seeking justice through the court system after they’ve been cheated. But President Trump’s Comptroller of the Currency, a former Wells Fargo lawyer, and Republicans in Congress are trying to overturn that rule. Overturning the Consumer Bureau’s arbitration rule will help banks and payday lenders continue to get away with cheating customers, and I intend to put up one hell of a fight. Wall Street banks and payday lenders have armies of lobbyists and lawyers on their sides. Our job is to fight for the service members, student borrowers, seniors, and hardworking Americans who depend on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to look out for them.

East Valley Times (California), July 30, 2017

Attorney General Becerra Urges US Senate to Keep Rule that Holds Corporations Accountable

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today urged the U.S. Senate to support a rule that allows people to pursue justice against financial services companies. The rule — known as the Arbitration Rule — was issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on July 10, but is already under attack in Congress. Specifically, Senate Republicans have filed a Joint Resolution for Disapproval in order to repeal the Arbitration Rule. In a letter to U.S. Senate leaders, Attorney General Becerra and 19 attorneys general underscored that the Arbitration Rule would provide relief to hardworking Americans who were previously prohibited from joining class action lawsuits or even going to court at all. As opposed to costly individual arbitrations, class action lawsuits are often the only realistic way for consumers to hold these companies accountable.

Chicago Tribune, July 28, 2017

OPINION: Will Congress Help Companies Use Forced Arbitration to Undercut Consumers?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — the consumer watchdog created after the financial crisis — has just finalized a rule that will prohibit banks from using forced arbitration clauses with class-action bans. But Wall Street lobbyists are trying to rig that game too; their supporters in Congress have just filed fast-track resolutions to block the CFPB rule. A current lawsuit against Wells Fargo points to why companies are trying every trick in the book to ensure that customers are denied their legal rights — and why the courts and Congress shouldn’t let them get away with it. If Wells Fargo is allowed to force its customers — most of whom are among the poorest and most vulnerable in their communities — into individual arbitration, the bank could keep up to $1 billion in fees it illegally obtained from customers outside of California. While the courts decide the fate of millions of Wells Fargo’s consumers, Congress will decide the rules of the game for the future. Both the courts and Congress should make Wells Fargo play fair and let consumers have their day in a court.

Black Press USA, July 27, 2017

Consumers Looks for Satisfaction with Updated Financial Rule

On July 10, a long-awaited rule to remedy this dilemma was announced by Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). A forceful and vocal coalition of civil rights, organized labor, consumer advocates and others had pushed for the rule to further address economic ills suffered disproportionately by consumers of color. Cordray said, “Our research showed that these little-known clauses are bad for consumers. They may not be aware that they have been deceived or discriminated against or even when their contractual rights have been violated.” Civil rights organizations were swift to speak up in support. “By leveling the playing field between corporations and individuals, this rule is an important step towards addressing the economic inequality that is so closely intertwined with racial injustice in the United States,” said Todd Cox, policy director for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. For policy advocates, the attempt to undo the lengthy and thoughtful process CFPB used in developing its arbitration rule is a step backwards, instead of forward. Whether it’s a payday loan, a credit card or maybe even a mobile phone, no consumer who has been financially harmed should be denied the right to seek some satisfaction and financial justice.

Bangor Daily News, July 27, 2017

OPINION: Congress Could Undo Rule that Makes it Easier for Financial Fraud Victims to Sue Banks

Arbitration is not the most effective conflict resolution approach in cases involving small dollar losses affecting thousands and, in the most egregious cases, perhaps even millions of consumers. Large companies, like Wells Fargo, can profit greatly by taking small amounts of money from thousands of customers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule on mandatory arbitration clauses should help to prevent a situation like the Wells Fargo debacle from happening again. Enforcement actions from government regulators like the CFPB are important in deterring misconduct of regulated firms. Unfortunately, this story does not end with the promulgation of CFPB’s final rule. There is an effort in Congress to repeal the arbitration rule using the Congressional Review Act. The House voted to repeal the rule on Tuesday, and it now heads to the Senate. Repeal would be a major setback for consumers of financial services in the nation and in Maine. Let’s hope that our senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, will stand up for all of us and oppose this effort.

Washington Examiner, July 26, 2017

OPINION: Congress Should Not Interfere with Americans’ Day in Court

The CFPB recently issued a consumer protection rule that restores the legal rights of Americans by prohibiting financial companies from making arbitration the only option. Under the rule, a consumer is free to choose arbitration or join with others in a class action suit. CRL just released a poll showing that three out of four likely voters support the CFPB’s mission and that two out of three voters support the rule. Going against their constituents, Members of Congress have introduced legislation to fast-track a repeal of the CFPB rule. This bill would limit consumer choice by shutting down an essential option of dispute resolution. The bill would also weaken the rule of law by letting unscrupulous businesses flout the law and get off scot-free. It would give a green light to student loan servicers that charge students more than they owe, to payday lenders that take money from people’s bank account without permission, to debt “relief” companies that levy illegal upfront fees, or to credit card companies that charge for credit monitoring services that customers never receive. This legal right helps prevent us from becoming prey to financial predators. Congress should take its hands off our legal rights

Time, July 25, 2017

Consumers Notched a Big Win Against Fine Print 2 Weeks Ago. The House Just Voted to Roll it Back

Just when it seemed consumers had scored a win against predatory fine print, Republicans are moving swiftly to kill that victory. But just two weeks after being finalized, the rule is now fighting for survival. Under the existing Congressional Rule Act, Congress can block new regulatory measures—and so in a floor vote on Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed legislation blocking the rule. A parallel Senate version of the measure has not advanced, despite earlier statements from Senate Republicans indicating they would take up overturning the rule in the next few weeks. The White House has also voiced its opposition to the arbitration rule, saying in a statement supporting the Republican-led bills that it was a “harmful rule [that] would benefit trial lawyers by increasing frivolous class action lawsuits.” Therefore, the CFPB rule’s greatest long-term impact may be to place a brighter spotlight on the industry’s bad actors, by establishing a plan for a new, CFPB-controlled database of public information on arbitration cases.

Free Lance-Star (Virginia), July 25, 2017

LTE: How Will Congress Respond to New Arbitration Rule?

How will Congress respond to new arbitration rule? What will Congress and Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st District, do with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new rule that curtails the scope of arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts? Under the rule, while arbitration clauses would still be permissible in consumer financial product contracts, they would “have to say explicitly that they cannot be used to stop consumers from being part of a class action in court.” So what are the problems with these clauses? Fair Arbitration Now says, “Most Americans don’t know that they are bound by forced arbitration. Buried in the fine print of employment, cell phone, credit card, retirement account, homebuilding, and nursing home contracts are mandatory arbitration clauses. So, will Congress exercise its threat to fight this rule or defund the CFPB? If it does, how will Wittman vote? Will he vote for you and I, the consumers, or for big business?

The Intelligencer (Pennsylvania), July 25, 2017

LTE: Congress Threatens Consumer Protection

Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has attempted to fight this by issuing a ban on all mandatory arbitration clauses. This is an encouraging step in the right direction for consumer protections. Arbitration clauses of this kind force the consumer to fight a battle of David versus Goliath, with odds stacked against them. If this rule is effectively carried out, consumers can ally together for the common good against large financial institutions. This rule, however, is under threat of elimination by Congress through the Congressional Review Act. I hope Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick will do the right thing and side with Pennsylvania consumers by voting against proposed rollbacks.

Baltimore Sun (Maryland), July 24, 2017

OPINION: Even if You Win in Arbitration, You Still Lose

Auto dealers and finance companies are not the only corporations using forced arbitration clauses with class action bans. Contracts for bank accounts, credit cards, payday loans and student loans have the clauses too. Other service members have also been hit with forced arbitration. That’s why earlier this month, the CFPB issued a rule that restores the ability of consumers to band together when financial companies violate the law and hurt hundreds, thousands or even millions of people. The Military Coalition, representing 5.5 million service members, supports the rule. The United States Constitution gives each American the right to a jury trial. But fine-print corporate contracts take that right away. Members of Congress should oppose their colleagues’ efforts to kill the arbitration rule because consumers — including service members like Prentice Martin-Bowen — deserve their day in court too.

USA Today, July 23, 2017

EDITORIAL: Let Consumers Sue Banks

A decade ago, many of the biggest banks charged excessive overdraft fees, as much as $35 a pop, under overdraft protection that was automatic, even for customers who didn’t request it. Some banks also added a little trick: They processed the highest-dollar transactions first, emptying accounts faster. A few small purchases could end up costing a customer multiple overdraft fees in one day. Class actions helped publicize and end this manipulative practice at some banks. Wells Fargo, however, is still claiming that it can’t be sued because of an arbitration clause, even though a federal judge in Florida rejected that defense. The bank has dragged customers through federal courts for years. The CFPB’s new rule would prevent this kind of mistreatment and offer consumers some recourse against powerful financial institutions. It should be allowed to stand.

Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 22, 2017

OPINION: Consumer Bureau’s New Rule Will Better Protect Consumers from the Abusive Financial Companies

Sen. Dean Heller is leading the charge to overturn a rule, just issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that would prove very helpful to Nevada consumers if allowed to survive. Faced with these debates, Congress in 2010 created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and ordered it to study the use of arbitration in connection with consumer financial products and services. It found that many consumer financial products and services mandate arbitration; that virtually all the arbitration clauses prevent consumers from entering into class actions; and that most consumers covered by such clauses have no clue they have agreed to forgo litigation or class actions. The bureau’s new rule reflects years of study, but the story is not over. In addition to pushing for the bill co-sponsored by Sen. Heller, lobbyists for finance companies are now working hard to get the comptroller of the currency or the courts to knock out the regulation before it even goes into effect. It is time for Nevadans to reach out to their congressional representatives to ensure that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new rule is preserved so that Nevada financial consumers can be better protected.

American Banker, July 21, 2017

Why CFPB’s arbitration rule is essential (two words: Wells Fargo)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s long-awaited financial arbitration rule is being opposed by banking lobbyists, and a resolution has already been filed in Congress to block it. This would be a grave mistake.

U.S. News and World Report, July 21, 2017

OPINION: The GOP’s Foolish Decision

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged Congress to kill not only this regulation, but every CFPB rule, on grounds the agency is unconstitutional and therefore all of its actions are invalid. The GOP would be terribly foolish to go down this road, for three reasons. Forced arbitration is: 1) unconscionable, 2) unconstitutional and 3) a big political loser.

Huffington Post, July 20, 2017

OPINION: Blocking the Courts: The Trump Triple Threat

One thing seems undeniably true about the health care bill’s demise: when the public has a right to something, it’s pretty hard for politicians to take that away. But things aren’t always so simple, especially when the public may be unaware of what officials are up to. Take the issue of access to the courts. Most American’s believe they have a fundamental right to go to court if they’ve been hurt by corporate or other misconduct. Voters certainly did not send politicians to Washington to block that access. But in three separate instances so far, the Trump administration (with Congress’ help) has begun doing just that, and the general public has no idea.

Huffington Post, July 20, 2017

OPINION: Wall Street’s Washington Friends Aim to Kill New Consumer Protection

With the ink still wet on a new regulation to protect the little guy or gal against big financial predators, congressional Republicans are already moving to get rid of it. On July 10, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized a rule to prohibit banks, credit card companies, and other lenders that break the law from stripping customers of the right to hold them accountable in class action lawsuits. The regulation is in response to the “ripoff clauses” that financial firms often bury in the fine print of contracts, forcing consumers to seek redress for misconduct on their own through secret arbitration proceedings. Most people only learn about these clauses when they become the victim of illegal financial behavior.

Consumerist, July 20, 2017

Lawmakers Who Want To Hand ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ Card To Banks Made Millions From Financial Sector Last Year

As expected, Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would overturn new rules intended to make sure that bank and credit card customers aren’t stripped of their right to file lawsuits in a court of law. Not surprisingly, many of the politicians pushing this pro-bank bill recently received significant financial support from the financial sector. We mentioned in our original story, before the legislation was introduced, that the two main sponsors — Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX) and Sen. Mike Crapo (ID) — received a total of $6 million in campaign contributions from the financial sector in 2016, with $1.9 million going to Hensarling’s campaign and $4.1 million going to Crapo. But among those supporting the legislation to roll back the new protections on bank and credit card customers, these two lawmakers aren’t even the largest beneficiaries of the financial industry.

Washington Post, July 20, 2017

Republicans are working to keep you from your day in court

Normally, Republicans are in favor of giving consumers more choices. Normally, Republicans are all about law and order. And normally, Republicans claim to be strong defenders of the Constitution. For some reason, though, the idea of giving consumers the choice to participate in a court of law — a right enshrined in the Seventh Amendment — leaves some GOP legislators quaking in their loafers. That’s the implication of a resolution introduced in both the Senate and House on Thursday. While you were busy pondering President Trump’s views of Napoleon, members of Congress were working to keep you from your day in court.

The Hill, July 20, 2017

GOP lawmakers introduce measures to repeal consumer bureau arbitration rule

The new CFPB rule forces companies to write arbitration clauses in ways that wouldn’t prevent consumers from joining class-action lawsuits. It also forces financial firms to hand over information about “initial claims and counterclaims, answers to these claims and counterclaims, and awards issued in arbitration.”

Reuters, July 18, 2017

New U.S. Rule on Class Actions Enters Critical Period

On Wednesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule abolishing “mandatory arbitration” clauses will be published in a directory of regulatory actions called the Federal Register, starting the timer for two possible ways of undoing it. The rule bans companies from requiring customers to sign agreements when opening new accounts that they will not join a group lawsuit, or class action, in the event of a dispute. Critics say such lawsuits only benefit lawyers and that arbitration is a quick, cost-effective alternative to the courts. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is currently looking into its options, including litigation, but has not decided its response, a spokeswoman for the lobbying group told Reuters. It could announce one as soon as Wednesday, when it holds an event on arbitration.

Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2017

Financial Regulators Edge Closer to Showdown Over Arbitration Rule

Two financial regulators edged closer to a showdown Tuesday over a new rule easing the ability for consumers to band together and sue banks. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee, in a Tuesday letter said it was too late to delay a rule barring mandatory arbitration between companies and consumers. Mr. Cordray’s letter—his second and the fourth between the two officials—said he has already signed and sent the final rule to a government regulations site. He also said Mr. Noreika’s claim that the arbitration rule could affect the safety of and soundness of the financial system was “so plainly frivolous.”

Vice, July 17, 2016

Wells Fargo Is Trying to Bury Another Massive Scandal

It turns out Wells Fargo has a long history of using arbitration to evade legal scrutiny. In fact, for the past six years, Wells has tried to use arbitration to block a class-action suit that every other major bank in America long ago settled. This has not only delayed restitution for regular customers, but revealed exactly why Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) moved to eliminate class-action bans through arbitration clauses earlier this month: It hands big banks a license to steal with impunity.

St. Louis Dispatch, July 17, 2017

EDITORIAL: Fighting to make sure that the little guy gets crushed

If banks and other credit providers abuse customers as a group, those harmed should be able to fight back as a group. Had the CFPB not taken its action, banks and credit providers would be able to continue abusing and bullying consumers with impunity. Key House Republicans believe, however, that it’s the CFPB, not banks and credit companies, that needs restraining…Exactly whom they’re fighting for isn’t quite clear, but it’s sure not consumers victimized by financial corporate behemoths. All the companies want is their unfair advantage. It’s strange the lengths to which some in Congress will go to fight against the little guy.

The Register-Guard (Oregon), July 17, 2017

EDITORIAL: On the side of consumers

In disputes with financial services companies, few consumers opt to go through a lengthy mandatory arbitration process, which often has the only option some companies allowed. Also, class action lawsuits tend to end abuses. If a company loses, it not only often has to pay a significant amount of money, the settlement usually requires it to quit doing whatever landed it in court.

New York Daily News, July 16, 2017

EDITORIAL: True populist economics: Save this consumer protection rule

These provisions make millions of consumers with complaints about fraudulent corporate practices succumb to secret tribunals under arbitrators handpicked by the very financial institutions that caused them their misery.

New York Times, July 15, 2017

EDITORIAL: Forcing Banks to Fight Fair

Even if the Republicans do not overturn the new rule, bank lobbying groups will most likely file legal challenges to delay or block it. If it comes to that, the absurdity of the industry’s going to court to argue that aggrieved customers should not be allowed to go to court will hopefully not be lost on the judge.

Tulsa World (Oklahoma), July 14, 2017

A little-known clause was keeping consumers from suing companies. Not anymore.

Although arbitration sounds like a middle-ground and cost-effective solution, it has turned into a David-and-Goliath story in many cases.

New York Times, July 13, 2017

Letters: Financial Goliaths and Consumer Davids

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s adoption of a new rule prohibiting mandatory arbitration in consumers’ disputes with banks adds to the growing recognition that regulation is needed to ensure that contracts enhance, rather than restrict, individual liberty. Since Emancipation in the 19th century, American courts have viewed the act of entering into a contract as synonymous with liberty.  Yet, by the mid-20th century, the Supreme Court accepted that society needs safeguards around contracts because liberty “requires the protection of law against the evils which menace the health, safety, morals and welfare of the people.” Absent the assurance of legal rights, contracts can be used to abuse one party’s dominance over another. By mandating arbitration of claims brought by individual consumers, corporations have used contracts to sidestep the rule of law.

Fortune, July 13, 2017

How This Rule Prevents Your Bank From Ripping You Offf

Earlier this week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule that prohibits financial institutions from including class action wavers in arbitration clauses in their consumer contracts. In other words, if a bank cheats its customers, as Wells Fargo did, it’ll now be easier for customers to take action.

The Hill, July 13, 2017

Consumer bureau moves to prevent the next Wells Fargo-style scandal

Big banks and payday lenders bury “ripoff clauses” in the fine print of take-it-or-leave-it contracts to block class-action lawsuits and push all disputes into biased and secret proceedings rigged in favor of companies. Since few consumers can afford to fight small-dollar disputes by themselves, banks can trick and trap customers with illegal charges and then pocket billions in stolen money.

Legal Reader, July 13, 2017

Uber Drivers Win Conditional Certification in Early Stages of Class Action Lawsuit

Disgruntled Uber drivers won a tentative victory in their quest to be classified as company employees rather than independent contractors. A federal court in North Carolina gave a conditional green light for litigation to proceed as a class action lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The New York Times reports that as many as 18,000 current and former drivers who opted out of an arbitration agreement might be eligible to join the legal battle. If successful, the outcome could impact the 600,000 drivers Uber has plying roadways across the country. The brunt of Uber drivers around the country wouldn’t be able to participate in the case even if it does proceed past the discovery phase of litigation, considering that many waived their right to challenge the company in court while signing their contracts.

The Nation, July 11, 2017

There is One Federal Agency That is Still Doing Its Job

In the final analysis, banning mandatory arbitration and restoring consumer rights to take part in class-action lawsuits is the right thing to do, and Cordray said as much in a conference call with reporters. “My obligation as the director of the consumer bureau is to act for the protection of consumers and in the public interest,” Cordray said. “In deciding to issue this rule, that is what I believe I have done.”

Reuters, July 11, 2017

U.S. Senator Seeks Legislation to Undo Ban on Arbitration Clauses

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton said he has begun the legislative process to eliminate a new ban on mandatory arbitration clauses established by a government regulator. Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, is attempting to eliminate new rules completed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that ban banks and credit card companies from including language in contracts barring class-action lawsuits by consumers. Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, said he will draft a resolution to allow Congress to eliminate the rule through the Congressional Review Act.

Los Angeles Times, July 11, 2017

CFPB’s Long-Awaited Arbitration Rule May Be a Short-Lived Victory for Consumers

Consumers had good reason to celebrate after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after years of preparation, issued a rule blocking credit card companies, banks and other financial firms from putting roadblocks in the way of customers joining class-action lawsuits. It’s a big deal. It’s all but certain that Republican lawmakers in control of the House and Senate will move quickly to overturn the rule as part of their ongoing efforts to cripple the consumer-watchdog agency and create a more business-friendly regulatory landscape. Because God forbid consumers actually have the power to hold big companies accountable for unfair or unethical practices.

Money Magazine, July 11, 2017

CFPB Just Issued a New Rule That Would Protect Consumers From Predatory Fine Print

The new rule will ban a number of major financial institutions—a group that includes banks, credit card companies, student lenders, payday lenders, debt collectors, and credit reporting companies—from imposing any contractual fine print that would stop consumers from banning together to bring a class action lawsuit.

New York Times, July 10, 2017

U.S. Agency Moves to Allow Class-Action Lawsuits Against Financial Firms

The nation’s consumer watchdog adopted a rule that would pry open the courtroom doors for millions of Americans, by prohibiting financial firms from forcing them into arbitration in disputes over their bank and credit card accounts. The action, by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would deal a serious blow to banks and other financial firms, freeing consumers to band together in class-action lawsuits that could cost the institutions billions of dollars. At a time when Dodd-Frank has come under attack, the arbitration initiative from the consumer finance agency — which operates independently from the Trump administration — is a provocative stand against the prevailing political tide in Washington. The rule, which would take effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, does not explicitly outlaw arbitration, but industry lawyers say it will effectively kill the practice.

Law 360, July 10, 2017

CFPB Rule Blocks Class Action Bans in Arbitration Clauses

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a final rule banning companies from using arbitration clauses to bar consumers from filing class action lawsuits, setting up a fight with banks, credit card and other companies, and potentially the Trump administration.

Newsmax, July 10, 2017

Wells Fargo Sham Accounts Cost Bank another $142 Million

The Wells Fargo sham accounts scandal just cost the bank another $142 million after a San Francisco judge ruled a proposed class action settlement is “fair, reasonable and adequate.” “The settlement requires Wells Fargo to repay the fees charged to class members by Wells Fargo for unauthorized accounts, and provide millions of dollars of additional monetary relief to the class,” said Derek Loeser, a partner at the law firm. “We believe this is an outstanding result obtained for the benefit of a proposed nationwide class, notwithstanding Wells Fargo’s effort to block the class action with an arbitration clause.

Huffington Post, July 9, 2017

DeVos Should Stop Stalling, Enforce Obama Rules to Protect Students From Fraud

This week, the Department of Education is holding hearings, in DC and Dallas, at which members of the public can comment on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s announcement that she will conduct a “Regulatory Reset“ – a new round of rule-making proceedings to reconsider two college accountability rules issued by the Department in the Obama Administration. The problem has been made worse because for-profit colleges impose forced arbitration clauses that keep bad practices concealed and unpunished. And because there has been almost no debt relief for students who were defrauded by colleges they believed had the Department’s seal of approval.

Frontiersman (Alaska), July 9, 2017

LTE: Wells Fargo Took Us for a Ride

For more than a decade, Wells Fargo was opening fake accounts across Alaska, racking up 5,970 victims of their fraudulent business practices. To date, the bank has avoided accountability for its wrongdoing by invoking fine-print forced arbitration clauses. No one signed the arbitration agreement on these fake accounts but, incredibly, Wells Fargo argues the signatures on customers’ legitimate accounts carry over to the fake ones. By doing so, they are denying Alaskans their day in court. I can only hope Wells Fargo is forced to abandon this practice after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau releases its rule to limit the use of forced arbitration in financial contracts this summer, and that our representatives support the rule on our behalf. But the damage here is already done.

Morning Consult, July 7, 2017

OPINION: Courts, Regulators Must Stop Wells Fargo’s Rigged Arbitration System

The country’s largest banks, such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, eventually made amends and settled with their customers; all told, the total settlements were more than $600 million on just the largest banks alone. Wells Fargo, on the other hand, refuses to reimburse its customers. Instead, the bank has spent years trying to force its customers into a complicated arbitration process, which would in reality provide little chance of recovering the money that was stolen through these overdraft fees. According to a study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, most customers simply give up when forced to arbitrate, especially for small-dollar claims, considering the time and expense. In the handful of arbitration claims filed in 2010 and 2011, only 9 percent of consumers with affirmative claims obtained relief, recovering only 12 cents of every dollar claimed. In contrast, 93 percent of companies won their claims in arbitration, recovering an average of 98 cents on the dollar.

Mediate, July 7, 2017

California Supreme Court Sets Up Showdown at U.S. Supreme Court over Arbitration Agreements

In April 2017, the California Supreme Court unanimously held in the case of McGill v. Citibank NA that an arbitration agreement waiving the right to public injunctive relief in any forum contradicts California public policy.  It held that such a waiver is thus unenforceable under California state law.  The California Supreme Court reversed a state appellate court decision to the contrary and this battle will almost certainly continue in the United States Supreme Court.  The McGill case has gained a great deal of attention and should be of interest to many people in the ADR community.

Washington Post, July 6, 2017

Attorney General Sue DeVos Over Delay of Rule to Protect Students from Predatory Colleges

A group of 19 state attorneys general are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for delaying an overhaul of rules to erase the federal student debt of borrowers defrauded by colleges. “Since day one, Secretary DeVos has sided with for-profit school executives against students and families drowning in unaffordable student loans,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. The first set of changes that were supposed to take effect this month would have, for instance, limit the ability of schools to require students to sign mandatory arbitration agreement and class action waivers that are commonly used by for-profit colleges to thwart legal action by students.

The Hill, July 5, 2017

OPINION: CFPB Protects Americans from Predatory Loan Sharks

The bureau has fundamentally changed the mortgage market by cracking down on illegal foreclosure practices, establishing a new standard that requires lenders to verify borrowers’ ability to repay their loans and making the terms more straight-forward and easier to understand. It levied a record fine against Wells Fargo for opening accounts without its customers’ permission, and it is working now to protect families from abusive payday loans and unfair forced arbitration actions. Instead of resorting to hyperbolic rhetoric about tyranny, they should consider the experience of consumers that have had their freedom constrained by financial companies that send them down an unending pit of debt and despair, deny them their day in court through mandatory arbitration clauses, hound them for debts they don’t owe, deny prepaid card users access to their own funds, or foreclose on responsible homeowners because of deceptive fine print or falsified documents.

Reuters, July 5, 2017

Dodd-Frank leaves muddle on forced arbitration of whistleblower claims

Whistleblowers who claim they’re entitled to Dodd-Frank’s enhanced procedural and back pay provisions can be forced into arbitration, even though Dodd-Frank itself protects the right to sue for whistleblowers with claims under the less generous Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Fortune, July 5, 2017

Beyond Pledges and Tweets: How Can Venture Capital Fix Its SexualHarassmentt Problem?

Forced arbitration deprives employees of their constitutional rights, and it forces employees who have been treated unlawfully to keep silent about what they have experienced. It is entirely in the interests of the company, and not the employee. It prevents harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and other unlawful treatment that employees have experienced from ever becoming public.

Daily Camera (Colorado), July 4, 2017

OPINION: Living with the nightmare of construction defects

Arbitration is not the benign process Martin portrays. Arbitration is a private court, which can be as expensive and time-consuming as a lawsuit. Not only that, it denies homeowners their basic legal rights of taking their dispute to a jury should they need to. Builders prefer arbitration so the details of their construction defects stay behind closed doors and are not part of a public record as in a lawsuit. We had naively signed our house purchase contract with an arbitration clause believing, as Martin proclaimed, that arbitration is a cheaper and faster solution to resolving disputes. Guess again. Several lawyers told us it would cost around $50,000 to take our case to arbitration, not exactly an affordable process for a family already in the red for medical bills and reconstruction costs. Just as disturbing, our purchase document contained Meritage’s arbitration rules that we must follow, including mandating their own arbitration firm, limiting the number of our witnesses, and requiring that all details must be hidden from the public.

Nerd Wallet, July 3, 2017

How to Read the Fine Print of Credit Card Offers

Reading mouse print and legal jargon may not be your idea of fun. But it’s worth the effort to examine terms and conditions of a card offer. And it’s easier if you know what to look for among those few thousand words. Better to know the details upfront than incur surprise fees or not qualify for the perks and rewards you expect. Besides terms and conditions, look for other fine print. Cardholder agreements. The fine print doesn’t contain all bad news. Many of the unsung goodies lie within. You might find details on such card benefits as purchase protection, extended warranty coverage and car rental insurance. However, it also probably includes details about binding arbitration — your promise not to sue the card issuer in court. Consumer advocates say arbitration favors issuers.

Winston-Salem Journal (North Carolina), July 1, 2017

Mike Wells: Be prepared to monitor loved ones care in care facilities

Many facilities require the admitted person to sign a contract that contains an arbitration clause, which means that many, if not all, potential disputes, including claims for negligence, will go before a panel of arbitrators rather than a jury. Although serious negligent care incidents are generally very rare in good facilities, experts from the care side and advocates feel these provisions are a significant advantage to the care facility.

Ars Technica, June 30, 2017

AT&T: Forced arbitration isn’t forced because no one has to buy service

AT&T is denying that its contracts include “forced arbitration” clauses, even though customers must agree to the clauses in order to obtain Internet or TV service.

The Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi), June 28, 2017

Wells Fargo seeks arbitration for a second lawsuit filed against the bank

Wells Fargo wants a judge to dismiss a Jackson couple’s federal lawsuit against the bank and a home windows company alleging fraud and send the case to arbitration. In response to the federal lawsuit filed last month by Wilbert and Esther McCoy in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Wells Fargo Financial National Bank has filed a court motion saying the couple agreed to arbitrate any dispute when they signed a credit card agreement.

Reuters, June 27, 2017

California moves forward on letting customers sue banks, inspired by Wells Fargo

California took another step toward allowing state residents to sue financial institutions for fraud, rather than letting banks force customers to settle disputes in arbitration, as a bill inspired by last year’s Wells Fargo scandal passed a key Assembly committee. The bill has already passed the state Senate. The full Assembly, the legislature’s lower chamber, is expected to approve it in a vote toward the end of August, after the summer recess.

Mic, June 27, 2017

Surprise! You might be owed money. How to get cash back from class-action lawsuit settlements

Although class actions are an important consumer protection tool, courts have been chipping away at class-action rights. In 2011’s AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to substantially limit class actions. In that case, a couple brought suit against AT&T Mobility for allegedly charging $30.22 in sales tax for what it had advertised as a “free phone.” AT&T’s contract mandated arbitration as a legal remedy, eliminating class actions as a means of seeking relief. Because California law prevented class-action waivers in one-sided contracts where consumers have no bargaining power, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the plaintiffs’ right to sue in court. However, the Supreme Court said “states cannot enforce such exceptions to federal law favoring arbitration provisions,” as USA Today reported at the time.

New York Post, June 27, 2017

Man who spoke out against Snapchat doesn’t want to be muzzled

A former Snap Inc. executive who accused CEO Evan Spiegel of saying Snapchat is “only for rich people” while fibbing about the app’s user numbers doesn’t want to be muzzled. Anthony Pompliano, who claims he was fired for challenging user metrics issued by Snap in the buildup to its IPO this year, asserts the company forced him into signing an arbitration agreement designed to prevent a public airing of his case in court that’s so “one-sided” it’s unenforceable. Papers filed in California federal court also assert Pompliano’s whistleblower claims cannot be arbitrated because they’re subject to provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

CNN, June 26, 2017

Women sent Silicon Valley a message. Will it listen?

Hot on the heels of Uber chief Travis Kalanick’s resignation in the wake of various sexual assault scandals at his company, Binary Capital has announced that co-founder Justin Caldbeck is on indefinite leave after multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual advances — allegations that have been reportedly accumulating for years. The ripple effect after Kalanick’s resignation has been significant and impactful, an acknowledgment that the treatment of women does matter and proving that one woman’s story can make a difference. There will be more Caldbecks in the months to come, and that’s because more women will feel empowered and emboldened to speak up. That’s not to say the problem is solved: As Fowler has pointed out, bad behavior will still be enabled by confidentiality agreements and forced arbitration — this, in tech and elsewhere — and there will be men who think themselves powerful enough to be immune to charges of impropriety.

Buffalo Law Journal, June 26, 2017

Uber drivers: Proceed with caution

As Uber faces a storm of legal action, the ride-sharing company is readying to open operations in the Buffalo area. With hundreds of Western New Yorkers signing up to drive for Uber, a look at the fine print of what they are signing up for may be in order. Under a mandatory arbitration clause in the terms of use, drivers could be in for a surprise should something go wrong with their experience with the company. When drivers sign up to work for the company, they agree to several provisions when it comes to possible litigation with Uber, said former Magistrate Judge Carol Heckman, now a partner at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP. She specializes in arbitration.

Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2017

You shouldn’t have to give up your right to sue to get a job

Arbitration can be an effective tool to resolve contract disputes without going to court. But employers shouldn’t be able to force workers into arbitration in contravention of worker protections established in federal laws and regulations, and they certainly shouldn’t make getting a job contingent on giving up the right to seek redress in the courts. Unfortunately, both have become regular occurrences, but a case now being briefed before the Supreme Court can — and should — fix that.

Washington Post, June 26, 2017

OPINION: Why big business keeps winning at the Supreme Court

The success of business interests before the nation’s highest court is not due simply to a conservative majority of justices. Neil M. Gorsuch participated in only a handful of cases, and for most of the term, there were an even number of liberals and conservatives. Yet the notoriously ideologically divided justices came together this term, as they often do, in cases involving business. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about this term was that it was liberal justices who led the charge for business. The court’s opinion in the debt collectors case was written by Stephen G. Breyer. Elena Kagan wrote the opinion in the arbitration case. Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion in the class action case. Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion in the securities fraud case. The court’s near-consensus in business cases is tied to a larger phenomenon: the abandonment by progressives and liberals of their traditional focus on issues of economic justice and income inequality. Such issues were once central to liberal legal thought.

Los Angeles Daily News, June 22, 2017

Why we can’t lose the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Mike Feuer

The Week, June 20, 2017

How a tiny law meant for merchants destroyed the class-action lawsuit

Star-Tribune, June 19, 2017

Wells Fargo scandal grows more political

Politico, June 16, 2017

Justice Department switches sides in Supreme Court case

LA Times, June 15, 2017

Trump team halts rules meant to protect students from predatory for-profit colleges

National Law Review, June 15, 2017

‘Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!’ Class Action Waiver Battle Kicks Off At Supreme Court

Des Moines Register, June 13, 2017

Editorial: Trump protects nursing homes at seniors’ expense

Military Times, June 13, 2017

Advocates: Too soon to tell whether DoD’s lending-rate rules have help troops’ bottom line

Standard-Examiner (UT), June 11, 2017

In the House, lawmakers just made it clear you don’t matter. Banks do

arsTechnica, June 8, 2017

AT&T uses forced arbitration to overcharge customers, senators say

New York Times, June 8, 2017
House Bill Would Dismantle an Array of Dodd-Frank Reforms

Mother Jones, June 7, 2017
House Republicans Are Trying to Pass the Most Dangerous Wall Street Deregulation Ever

Consumerist, June 7, 2017
Trump Administration Will Allow Nursing Homes to Strip Residents of Legal Rights

Deseret News, June 6, 2017
OPINION: Wells Fargo case shows how fine print can erode freedom

Money Magazine, June 6, 2017
The Trump Adminstration Wants to Kill a Rule Protecting Elderly From Nursing Home Abuses

Reuters, June 6, 2017
Commentary: A kinder, gentler arbitration process for U.S. financial consumers

Bloomberg BNA, June 6, 2017
Medicare Backtracks on Long-Term Care Arbitration Rule

Modern Healthcare, June 5, 2017
CMS lifts ban on nursing home arbitration agreement

The Gazette, June 5, 2017
Colorado Supreme court sides with builders in arbitration over construction defects

McKnight’s, June 5, 2017
SCOTUS grants provider win in arbitration clause dispute

Denver Post, June 2, 2017
Repealing Dodd-Frank is bad for Colorado, especially military service members and veterans

Lake County News, May 30, 2017
Bill in response to Wells Fargo scandal passes State Senate

Bloomberg BNA, May 24, 2017
Lawmakers Ask Justices to Take Up Veterans’ Workplace Rights

Reuters, May 18, 2017
Fate of Ailes harassment lawsuits unclear after his death

The Press Democrat, May 18, 2017
Editorial: Opening the courthouse door to defrauded customers

LA Times, May 16, 2017
California lawmakers want to rein in Wells Fargo’s arbitration clause. But can they? 

Reuters, May 11, 2017
U.S. consumer watchdog’s prepaid-card rule survives Congress challenge

Clarion-Ledger, May 11, 2017
Wells Fargo deception lawsuit goes to arbitration 

The Morning Call, May 10, 2017
Washington has started its attack on your consumer protections

Des Moines Register, May 9, 2017
Editorial: Who will hold Wells Fargo accountable? 

Buzzfeed News, April 20, 2017
Why It’s So Hard For Riders To Sue Uber

CNN Money, April 12, 2017
Read the fine print: 4 ways you sign away your rights

Slate, April 11, 2017
The United Scandal Has a Message for Democrats: Americans Want Consumer Protection

New York Times, April 9, 2017

Loans ‘Designed to Fail’: States Say Navient Preyed on Students

Arbitration clauses, buried in the fine print of loan contracts, have largely thwarted students’ legal challenges. But the attorneys general are not bound by those clauses. Their cases may be the only avenue left for borrowers to get relief.

Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2017
Here’s why Wells Fargo forces its customers into arbitration: It wins most of the time

Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2017
Wells Fargo’s $110-million settlement is still not enough, lawyers say

USA Today, March 29, 2017
Wells Fargo to pay $110 million to settle fake account suit

Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2017
Customers still seem wary of doing business with Wells Fargo-with good reason

Money Magazine, March 20, 2017
What Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Could Mean for Your Consumer Rights

TIME, March 8, 2017
Gretchen Carlson: How Arbitration Clauses Allow Sexual Harassment to Continue

StarTribune, March 8, 2017
Gretchen Carlson says ending mandatory arbitration ‘has become my mission’

Law360, March 8, 2017
Uber Drivers Forced Into Arbitration In Overtime Row

Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2017
Sherman reintroduces bill to let Wells Fargo customers sue over unwanted accounts

Omaha World-Herald, March 6, 2017
James Goddard: Consumer protections are needed

Consumerist, March 1, 2017
Wells Fargo Tries, Fails to Explain Why Customers Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Sue Over Fake Accounts

Washington Post, February 27, 2017
Hundreds allege sex harassment, discrimination at Kay and Jared jewelry company

Consumerist, February 23, 2017
Uber Driver Claims Company Keeps More Money Than It’s Supposed To 

Star-Tribune, January 29, 2017
Senior home arbitration clauses can cause confusion, block lawsuits

2016

Los Angeles Times, December 9, 2016
Wells Fargo’s actions should persuade lawmakers to rein in forced arbitration

Sacramento Bee, December 8, 2016
Wells Fargo victims deserve their day in court

Reuters, November 29, 2016

Warren slams Wells Fargo over arbitration position

Money Magazine, November 14, 2016
Credit Card Companies Want You to Give Up Your Right to Sue Them. Here’s How to Opt Out

CBS News, November 7, 2016

One man’s $100,000 journey through arbitration

The financial services industry bills arbitration as a “prompt and inexpensive means of resolving issues.” Yet for consumers who go through the process, it can end up far more expensive and time-consuming than one would expect from that description.

Consumerist, November 7, 2016
Court: Nursing Homes Can Continue Stripping New Residents Of Their Right To Day In Court

Money Magazine, November 4, 2016
Why You Can’t Take Airbnb to Court Even If You’re Discriminated Against

StarTribune, October 22, 2016
Debate over forced arbitration finds its second wind, with help from events like Wells Fargo scandal

Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2016

Arbitration Rule Change Raises Risks for Nursing Homes

The Dalton Citizen (Dalton, Georgia), October 11, 2016

Legal clauses keeping Wells Fargo out of court

MediaPost (New York), October 10, 2016

Consumers Press for Right to Sue Turn in Federal Court

Minnesota Public Radio, October 4, 2016

Minnesota attorney general: Wells Fargo should let clients sue

The Epoch Times, October 4, 2016

Homes for Improved Care in Nursing Homes as New Rule Allows Lawsuits

Las Vegas Review-Journal, October 4, 2016

Editorial: Buried in the ‘fine print’

The West Virginia Record, October 4, 2016

The Obama Administration’s last-minute attacks on arbitration

USA Today, October 3, 2016

Clinton slams Wells Fargo, says she’ll fight consumer ‘gotchas’

Los Angeles Times, October 3, 2016

Senator to push bill to let Wells Fargo customers sue over unauthorized accounts

Consumer Reports, October 3, 2016

Moving Into a Nursing Home? You Will Soon Have More Rights

The Hill, October 3, 2016

Rooftop solar needs to clean up its act

USA Today, September 29, 2016

Wells Fargo CEO grilled by House panel

Consumer Reports, September 29, 2016
Why You Might Not Be Able to Sue Your Bank

U.S. News & World Report, September 28, 2016
Keeping Sexual Assualt Under Wraps

Reuters, September 26, 2016

U.S. House panel lambastes Wells Fargo boss over phantom accounts

Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2016
How Wells Fargo exploited a binding arbitration clause to deflect customers’ fraud allegations

Huffington Post, September 26, 2016

The Infuriating Reason Wells Fargo Got Away With Its Massive Scam For So Long

U.S. News and World Report, September 26, 2016

Scandal–and Opportunity

NBC-4 (Los Angeles), September 22, 2016

How Do Arbitration Clauses Work?

USA Today, September 21, 2016

Elizabeth Warren laid the smackdown on Wells Fargo CEO

The Hill, September 20, 2016

Why Wells Fargo got away with it for so long

Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2016

Why Wells Fargo customers can’t sue over bogus accounts

The Michigan Daily, September 20, 2016

Op-ed: Brent Kim: The fine print of for-profit schools

Legal News Line, September 20, 2016

Members of Congress want safe harbor provision in CFPB’s final arbitration rule

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA), September 19, 2016

Colliton: Large banks are removing your right to a jury trial

Boston Globe August 22, 2016
Consumers have a right to go to court

Money Magazine, August 16, 2016
Putting an End to Mandatory Arbitration Won’t Be Easy

Money Magazine, June 28, 2016
How Companies Block Your Day in Court

The Oregonian, May 7, 2017

Bankrupt cancer survivor gets shock: $300 loan balloons into $40,000 debt in 2 years

Banks has run up against a practice in the payday and title loan industry that consumer advocates are trying to change. The consumer agreements typically include a requirement that any dispute go before a private arbitrator of the company’s choosing.

2015

The New York Times, November 2, 2015
In Religious Arbitration, Scripture is the Rule of Law

The New York Times, November 1, 2015
In Arbitration, a ‘Privatization of the Justice System’

The New York Times, October 31, 2015
Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice

The New York Times, March 16, 2015
Failed by Law and Courts, Troops Come Home to Repossessions

Philly.com, March 6, 2015
Consumers need help in fight against lenders

StarTribune, March 4, 2015
Lawsuit claiming overtime violations filed against TCF

The Washington Post, March 3, 2015
Why it’s nearly impossible for you to sue your credit card company

The Street, Feb. 5, 2015
Even Snowden Would Have His Hands Full Cracking Wall Street’s Arbitration Secrets

ThinkProgress, Feb. 4, 2015
$480 Million In For-Profit College Debts Are Actually Worth Less Than $8 Million

Consumerist, Feb. 3, 2015
Deal Provides $480 Million In Debt Relief To Current & Former Corinthian Colleges Students

The New York Times, Jan. 30, 2015
When Consumers Give Up Their Right to Trial in Financial Disputes

Think Advisor, Jan. 22, 2015
FINRA Arbitration Data Under Fire Again

Consumerist, Jan. 22, 2015
Will New Owner Of Everest University, WyoTech Continue With Old Owner’s Sketchy Practice?

Investment News
Investor, consumer groups call on FINRA to release more arbitration data

2014

Main Street, Dec 23, 2014
ECMC Channels Corinthian as It Learns the Tricks of the For-Profit College Trade

Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 28, 2014
Arbitration – what you don’t know about fine print can hurt you: Plain Dealing

Reuters, Nov. 19, 2014
U.S. entrepreneur considered suing Uber over tracking activities

Slate, Nov. 17, 2014
By Clicking on This Article, You Agree to …

Salon, Nov. 7 2014
Corporate America’s oily trick: How big business uses “yellow-dog contracts” to crush basic rights

20 Minutos (in Spanish), Oct. 30, 2014
 Arbitraje laboral: una ‘justicia privada’ cuyos fallos suelen favorecer a las compañías ((Employment Arbitration, a ‘private justice,’ whose rulings often favor companies)

New York Times, Oct. 23, 2014
One-Third of Top Websites Restrict Customers’ Right to Sue

The Street, Oct. 8, 2014
The Fix for Biased Wall Street Arbitration? Make It More Like Court or Get Rid of It

New York Times, Sept. 25, 2014
A Murky Process Yields Cleaner Professional Records for Stockbrokers

Los Angeles Times, Aug. 8, 2014
Obama strikes a blow against the scourge of forced arbitration

Slate, Aug. 7, 2014
Obama Is on a Pro-Labor Roll 

CBS News, July 31, 2014
bama signs executive order protecting federal contractors’ employees

The New York Times, July 15, 2014
Arbitration Clauses Let American Apparel Hide Misconduct

The Nation, July 8, 2014
How Consumers Are Getting Screwed by Court-Enforced Arbitration

American Banker, May 13, 2014
Mandatory Arbitration Offers Bargain-Basement Justice

Consumer Reports, May 9, 2014
Ban the use of forced-arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts

Reuters, April 24, 2014
Schwab drops ban on clients filing class-action lawsuit

The New York Times, April 18, 2014
How Payday Lenders Prey Upon the Poor — and the Courts Don’t Help

Fair Arbitration Now
When General Mills Changed Its Legal Terms

Los Angeles Times, March 18, 2014
The Raiders strike back at cheerleaders: You can’t sue us, ladies

Consumerist, Feb. 27, 2014
9 Federal Laws That Companies Can Skirt By Using Forced Arbitration

Computerworld, Feb. 21, 2014
Dropbox changes its terms of service to stop class-action lawsuits

Bloomberg, Feb. 14, 2014
Feeling Ripped Off? Don’t Rely on the Street’s Arbitrators

San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 20, 2014
When the little guy gets shut out of court 

Fox4kc.com (with video), Jan. 15, 2014
Beware of contracts that take away your rights

Los Angeles Times, Jan. 14, 2014
Leveling the legal playing field: Limit forced arbitration

San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 12, 2014
Consumer advocates seek details from arbitration firms

CBSAtlanta (with video), Jan. 7, 2014
Consumer advocates: Fine print could rob consumers of right to sue

2013

New York Times, Dec. 29, 2013
A Tool Consumers Need

Talking Points Memo, Dec. 27, 2013
The Arbitration Trap

Los Angeles Times, Dec. 26, 2013
When the right to sue goes away

Consumerist, Dec. 12, 2013
CFPB Report Confirms That Banks & Credit Card Companies Are Taking Away Your Right To Sue

New York Times, Dec. 6, 2013
Warranty Clause Limits Hyundai Owners Rights

Creditcards.com, Dec. 4, 2013
Card issuers soften mandatory arbitration rules

Investment News, Sept. 15, 2013
BofA quashed on arbitration; Court denies request by bank, Merrill on overtime suit

The New York Times, Sept. 4, 2013, Schwab Case Casts Spotlight on Securities Arbitration and Its Flaws

Truthout, Aug. 29, 2013
“Horton” Hears a Stampeding Judicial Amendment

Consumerist, Aug. 22, 2013
Comcast Lawsuit Shows Why Mandatory Binding Arbitration Is Just Plain Evil

Consumerist, Aug. 21, 2013
TiVo Adds Mandatory Binding Arbitration For Customers: Here’s How To Opt Out

Investment News, Aug 18, 2013
Time to end mandatory arbitration

The Washington Times, June 16, 2013
When mandatory arbitration replaces litigation, consumers lose

The New York Times, June 14, 2013
Automakers Push Back Against Consumer Protections

Voice of San Diego, May 23, 2013
Justice for Sale, Part Two: Ignoring the Law

Voice of San Diego, Aug. 12, 2013
Judge Who Ruled Against Arbitration Activist Now an Arbitrator

Voice of San Diego, July 15, 2013
Billboard Seeks to Name and Shame in Arbitration Case

Voice of San Diego, July 5, 2013 Arbitration Results Will Stay Secret, for Now

The Huffington Post, June 21, 2013
Supreme Court Approves Use of Faux Arbitration to Eliminate Consumer Rights

Mother Jones, June 20, 2013
The Supreme Court Just Made It Easier for Big Business to Screw the Little Guy

The Atlantic Wire, June 20, 2013
The Problem with the Supreme Court’s AmEx Decision, Class Action, and You

Voice of San Diego, May 28, 2013
Justice for Sale, Part Three: The War on Consumer Class Actions

Hometown Source, May 7, 2013
 Franken reintroduces legislation to restore consumers, workers, and small businesses’ right to seek justice through court

Reuters via Chicago Tribune, May 3, 2013
States urge SEC to halt forced investor arbitrations

Bankrate.com, May 1, 2013
Arbitration: Strategies for fighting it

Reuters, April 30, 2013
Lawmakers urge U.S. SEC to bar forced Wall Street arbitration

InvestmentNews, April 21, 2013
Aguilar spot-on about mandatory arbitration

Reuters, April 16, 2013
U.S. SEC’s Aguilar urges end to mandatory arbitration agreements

The New York Times, April 1, 2013
After Boom-Boom Room, Fresh Tactics to Fight Bias

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, March 30, 2013
Hightower: Corporate kangaroo courts supplant our Seventh Amendment rights

Thomson Reuters News & Insight, March 21 2013
2nd Circuit squelches Title VII exception to mandatory arbitration

Automotive News, March 20 2013
U.S. scrutiny of dispute provisions in loan contracts threatens dealerships

The Nation, March 15, 2013
Small Print, Big Problem (Part II: Remedies)

The Nation, March 14, 2013
Small Print, Big Problem (Part I: Diagnosis)

DailyFinance, March 7, 2013
Forced Arbitration: Killing the Right to Sue Big Companies, One TOS Agreement at a Time

Thomson Reuters News & Insight, March 5, 2013
Analysis: SEC arbitration stance may leave investors in the lurch

New York Times, Feb. 28, 2013
Justices Appear Skeptical Over a Challenge to Required Arbitration

New York Times, Feb. 26, 2013
Schwab May Apply Class-Action Victory to Pending Cases

Mother Jones, Feb. 26, 2013
This Supreme Court Case Could Give Corporations Even More Power to Screw Consumers

Media Matters, Feb. 22, 2013
Media Cover Boat Disaster But Not The Supreme Court Case That Could Hand Even More Power To Corporations

National Law Journal, Feb. 12, 2013
Arbitration case this term could lead to broadest ruling against class actions

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