Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Low in Arbitration Clauses

Arb Rachel Arnow-Richman (Denver) sends us this, via Dan Barnhizer's (Michigan State) post to the Contracts listserv.  It is an arbitration "agreement" taped to the front door of a Whataburger.  Ellen Dannin (Penn State) adds that the "American Mediation Association" referred to in the "agreement" is really the office of "Robert Smith & Associates", a law firm in Dallas.

Years ago, I argued that the Supreme Court's arbitration jurisprudence would just about let a grocery store compel a customer's arbitration merely by printing an arbitration clause on a grocery receipt.  It now appears that we have sunk so low.








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This situation is full of interesting angles (but definitely not angels). There is the adhesion clause aspect, but it is no worse that including in small print on a job application that an employee agrees to arbitration. And somehow that is adequate to waive rights to a hearing by an Article III judge, the rules of evidence, due process, etc etc.

There is the deceptive name of the faux organization.

There is the question of the motives of the supermarket, which has most likely been advised to be very afraid of its customers and that its only protection is this sort of notice.

And then there is the question of the effect of the notice on customers. I would not patronize any place that demonstrated this sort of views about those who patronize it - unless it was literally the last place on earth to get something I absolutely needed.

Of course, many harried patrons may not bother even to read the sign.

But I wonder whether they checked patronage levels since posting this sign?

Posted by: Ellen Dannin | Jan 12, 2011 8:47:30 AM

No consideration.

Posted by: Brandon | Jan 13, 2011 6:21:23 AM

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