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Arbitration clauses let businesses escape fraud accusations

Arbitration clauses let businesses escape fraud accusations

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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.

One consumer's damages are never enough to justify the expense of arbitration or an attorney's involvement. Therefore the business that commits the fraud escapes all responsibility. This, of course, is the intent all along of these mandatory arbitration clauses. Unethical, greedy businesses that commit fraud don't want to face a jury; they want to be able to pursue their greed with impunity.

There is bank account fraud, lending fraud, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, advertising fraud and many other types. How many are prevented by the threat of future class action litigation? Do we really want to remove the threat of a jury's vengeance to fraudulent businesses and promote injustice in our society?

William M. Wunderlich  •  High Ridge

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