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Sen. Franken: Supreme Court's AmEx Decision Hurts Small Businesses, Helps Corporate Giants

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Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) called the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant--in which the Court considered the right of small businesses to seek legal recourse when they think they are being cheated by monopolies--"a boon for corporate giants that will drastically curtail the rights of small businesses and consumers to seek justice."

The Court's decision found that huge corporations can legally force individual arbitration on small businesses, meaning that when those businesses think they are being treated unfairly, they cannot band together and take their case to court. Instead, they have to settle it in private arbitration, which almost always favors the stronger party.

"Today's Supreme Court decision is a boon for corporate giants that will drastically curtail the rights of small businesses and consumers to seek justice," said Sen. Franken. "This decision gives enormous corporations the unbridled ability to deny small businesses their day in court when they aren't being treated fairly, and instead forces them to abide by whatever a private arbiter decides. And there's no question that this decision will ultimately affect the ability of consumers and workers to have access to the courts. All of this only underscores the need for Congress to pass my Arbitration Fairness Act, which would fix this injustice."

A longtime advocate for consumers and workers in cases of forced arbitration, Sen. Franken originally introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act in 2011 and reintroduced it last month. Sen. Franken recently wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking it to prevent Wall Street brokerage firms from forcing investors into unfair arbitration agreements. Sen. Franken has previously introduced legislation to ban mandatory arbitration clauses in cell phone and mobile data service contracts and in college enrollment contracts.


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