WASHINGTON – Responding to a recent Supreme Court decision, DFL Sen. Al Franken today unveiled a bill to allow consumers to sue companies, even when they had already waived that right by signing a boilerplate contract.
The Supreme Court decision in AT&T vs. Concepion allows companies to prevent class-action lawsuits by inserting language into contracts that requires signatories to enter mandatory arbitration and give up their right to sue.
The decision applies not just to consumer cases, but also to employment and civil rights laws.
Franken’s bill, introduced jointly with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), would ban those mandatory arbitration clauses from contracts.
The bill is unlikely to pass in both chambers of Congress due to the highly partisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill these days.
But it is likely to please trial lawyers, a key Democratic constituency.
According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, lawyers are the biggest single source of campaign contributions to Franken’s campaign, giving more than $1.3 million to his campaign committee and leadership PAC between 2005 and 2010.