Why You Should Care: AT&T v. Concepcion

November 24, 2010 -

The California Violent Video Game law is not the only important case before the supreme court affecting consumers. Earlier this month the highest court in the land heard oral arguments in AT&T v. Concepcion, a case that could remove the right for consumers to band together as a class action against corporations. Here is more from the Consumer Federation of America:

"The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this month in the case of AT&T v. Concepcion, in which the right to hold corporations responsible for wrong-doing through consumer class action lawsuits is at stake. In a statement on the case issued earlier this month, CFA Senior Counsel Rachel Weintraub said: “A ruling by the Supreme Court in AT&T’s favor would have dire consequences for the rights of consumers to obtain redress. Without access to class actions, consumers will be boxed into mandatory arbitration proceedings, which are held by arbiters often handpicked by the corporation and most often side with corporation.” CFA is among numerous consumer groups, civil rights organizations, state attorneys general, and law professors who have joined in an amicus brief 'requesting that the Supreme Court preserve this important legal right to organize in class actions.'"

ECA is a member of the Consumer Federation of America (which was also a co-signatory on our amicus brief).

[Games Politics is an ECA publication.]

Source: consumerfed.org

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Comments

Re: Why You Should Care: AT&T v. Concepcion

I've read some on this case elsewhere, and what's at stake isn't at all what you describe (as I hear, at least.) The ability to file class-action suits shouldn't be dramatically affected by this outcome. For those who don't know the background: AT&T had a line in their cell phone contract that certain disputes go to arbitration instead of court. Presumably this is because arbitration is quicker and cheaper than court. (It's also said that the consumers do just as well under arbitration, and that AT&T can as a result provide cheaper plans because they're somewhat insulated from the threat of jackpot lawsuits, but I can't definitively prove this.) AT&T customers agreed to this contract, had some dispute, and sued anyway. Customers say that CA law forbids contracts that would forbid lawsuits; AT&T says federal law which allows for contractual arbitration trumps state laws. The lawsuit deals more with contractual issues; meritorious class-action and fraud suits aren't really at stake.

Re: Why You Should Care: AT&T v. Concepcion

I understand what you are saying but the harm this will cause to consumers is not really off set by any imaginary savings or cheaper prices. Market forces set pricing and if people are willing to pay current prices the phone companies costs to become zero and still they wouldn't lower prices. In a truly competitive market they would, but we don't really have that. It all boils down to values and in my opinion we should not allow ANY person to sign away their rights. Especially with something as flimsy as an EULA that most people don't read and don't actually sign to.

Re: Why You Should Care: AT&T v. Concepcion

Mind you that another contract that included an arbitration-clause was the cause of a severe debate because a woman that got raped was not allowed to go to court according to her contract. Companies already hide massive crimes behind arbitration, what's to prevent them from simply hiding financial scams behind them?

Re: Why You Should Care: AT&T v. Concepcion

It does seem to pave the way though. A lot of precedent these days is built on prior precedent. Keep that in mind while justifying this. AT&T is about as far from a company with good intentions as you can get. If this passes, software and game EULAs could perhaps be modified in the future such that you can't sue the company that published the game or software - including the government. The EULA is a contract after all. This should fail to pass unscathed on the premise that such precedent WILL be used later by large companies as an immunity card to get away with anything. - Left4Dead Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.
- Left4Dead Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.
 
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