Allison Garrett


In the commercialized and technology-driven world we live in today, it is astonishingly easy to find an area where an arbitration clause has influenced our lives. If you have purchased a smart phone, applied for a credit card, downloaded an app, or ordered takeout, you have likely signed an arbitration clause. Arbitration claims can be a powerful tool for suppressing collective action and contributed to the steady decrease of class action filings for decades, particularly against large corporations. With the strengthening of arbitration clauses in the past several decades and the court’s tricky relationship with their enforcement, arbitration claims have been a developing source of contention in the realm of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The history behind arbitration and class actions as forms of dispute resolution is long and controversial, despite them being created for the sake of efficiency and fairness in the judicial system. With the long list of requirements plaintiffs must fulfill to be certified as a class and arbitration clauses often being heavily weighted in favor of corporate defendants, the path to satisfactory and just resolution is long, especially in mass tort and employment cases. However, plaintiffs have started using arbitration clauses to their advantage as a tool to circumvent class action waivers. Class action plaintiffs are turning the tables on defendants and more frequently utilizing ADR methods, such as arbitration, in their employment and mass tort claims.



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