Consumers' Right To File Class Actions Is In Danger
Professor William B. Gould IV is quoted by the Los Angeles Times in a news report on a Supreme Court case that could prevent individuals from bringing class-action lawsuits to court. David Lazarus filed the following story:
It hasn't gotten a lot of press, but a case involving AT&T that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court next week has sweeping ramifications for potentially millions of consumers.
If a majority of the nine justices vote the telecom giant's way, any business that issues a contract to customers — such as for credit cards, cellphones or cable TV — would be able to prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits.
This would take away in such cases arguably the most powerful legal tool available to the little guy, particularly in cases involving relatively small amounts of money. Class-action suits allow plaintiffs to band together in seeking compensation or redress, thus giving substantially more heft to their claims.
William B. Gould IV, a professor emeritus at Stanford Law School and former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board under President Clinton, said the high court was clearly interested in extending the reach of the Federal Arbitration Act.
"This is a very important issue," he said. "And this Supreme Court has indicated a measure of hostility toward class actions."