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Justice Denied

One Year Later: The Harms to Consumers from the Supreme Court’s Concepcion Decision Are Plainly Evident

April 25, 2012 - In the year since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, consumers have regularly been blocked from pursuing class-action cases. For a quarter-century, the court has held that corporations could force their customers to settle any disputes in private arbitration tribunals instead of court by inserting such language into their boilerplate contracts. In Concepcion, the court vastly expanded the reach of arbitration by ruling that corporations could block the consumers they force into arbitration from pursuing cases as a class.

Since Concepcion, judges have cited the case in decisions that stopped at least 76 potential class-action lawsuits from going forward. Several judges have expressed frustration that the decision has forced them to stop consumer actions that are best suited to proceed as class actions. Class-action lawsuits historically have provided a means to combat illegal payday lending practices, contest poor business practices and confront discriminatory auto lending. But Concepcion has left many consumers without a means to pursue redress.

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