Congress established Amtrak as a governmental corporation to provide passenger rail services to travelers throughout the nation. In 2019, Amtrak added an “Arbitration Agreement” to its terms and conditions of service. The Arbitration Agreement requires ticket purchasers and rail passengers to submit claims against Amtrak to binding arbitration before a private arbitrator, thereby preventing them from litigating in court. The Agreement also requires that claims be arbitrated on an individual basis, which prevents ticket purchasers and passengers from participating in class actions or representative actions.
Amtrak, which receives government subsidies, is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. In December 2019, Public Citizen submitted a FOIA request to Amtrak seeking records relating to the adoption and implementation of its arbitration policy. Amtrak did not respond to the FOIA request. Accordingly, in July 2020, we filed a lawsuit against Amtrak to obtain disclosure of the requested records.