A Briefing on AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion
On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, ACS hosed a briefing on AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in November. Some commentators believed that this case, which has garnered relatively little attention, had potentially wide-ranging implications for consumer, civil rights, and other class actions.
In their standard contracts, companies often include provisions requiring the parties to resolve disputes through individual arbitration proceedings or in small claims court, and that ban class actions or class-wide arbitration. The companies argue that requiring the parties to resolve disputes through these individual proceedings provides an adequate remedy for an injured party and preserves the benefits of avoiding a class action or other litigation - namely that it is less burdensome, less expensive, and less time consuming. Some states will not enforce a provision that bans class actions because they deem these provisions unconscionable and invalid under state law. Opponents of the bans contend that consumers, employees, and other people covered under the bans should not have their rights stripped away by the fine print in a form contract. They also argue that in many instances, like where the damages for each claim are small or the issues that need to be resolved are very complex, a class action provides the only avenue for injured parties to vindicate their rights.
In this case, the Supreme Court has been asked to determine whether federal law - specifically the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 - preempts state law that invalidates these bans. There is a lot at stake depending on how the Court answers this question. Experts representing a variety of perspectives offered analysis of the case and its implications, and previewed some of the arguments likely to be made before the Court when it heard the case on Tuesday, November 9, 2010.
The panel featured:
- Moderator, Suzette M. Malveaux, Associate Professor of Law, Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America
- F. Paul Bland, Jr., Senior Attorney, Public Justice
- Alan S. Kaplinsky, Partner, Ballard Spahr LLP
- Nina Pillard, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
- Stephen J. Ware, Professor of Law, University of Kansas School of Law
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
12:00 - 2:00 pm
The National Press Club, Conference Rooms
529 14th Street, NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045