Contact: Michelle Widmann Kimmel
American Association for Justice
AAJ Statement on SCOTUS Decision in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant
SCOTUS decides corporations can grant themselves a license to steal and violate the law
Washington, DC—The following is a statement from American Association for Justice (AAJ) President Mary Alice McLarty on today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant:
“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a major blow to America’s consumers, employees and small businesses. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations can use the fine print of contracts to grant themselves a license to steal and violate the law.
“It is imperative that Congress and federal agencies act to protect individuals and small businesses from the abusive practice of forced arbitration. Without Congressional action, all federal and state civil rights, employment, antitrust, and consumer protections are at risk of being wiped away by the fine print.”
- In AmEx v. Italian Colors, the Court decided that corporations can force small businesses and individuals into arbitration even when it can be proven that they will not be able to vindicate their rights through arbitration.
- In this case, small businesses were seeking to hold AmEx accountable for violating federal antitrust laws.
- The small businesses alleged that AmEx is violating antitrust laws with a tying arrangement by using its monopoly power over charge cards to force merchants to take all AmEx-branded credit cards and pay higher fees.
- AmEx’s merchant contracts require individual forced arbitration to resolve disputes. AmEx’s arbitration clauses also do not allow merchants to shift or share the expenses of arbitrating a claim with other merchants.
- The small businesses presented ample evidence to the court to show that the costs of an individual arbitration would have been many times more than the possible maximum amount of damages that each would recover. The costs of a single antitrust market study necessary for each arbitration claim could exceed $1 million, while each claimant’s potential damages would be no more than a few thousand dollars.
- If small businesses are forced to try to resolve this dispute in individual arbitration, they will not be able to effectively vindicate their rights and AmEx will be allowed to get away with widespread wrongdoing.
Federal Laws at Risk
- Federal Laws at Risk
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991
- Credit Repair Organizations Act
- Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
- Electronic Fund Transfer Act
- Equal Pay Act
- Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- Fair Labor Standards Act
- False Claims Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
- National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (amending the Military Lending Act)
- Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
- Right to Financial Privacy Act
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act
- Securities Act of 1933
- Securities Exchange Act of 1934
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
- Sherman Antitrust Act
- Telephone Consumer Protection Act
- The civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
- Truth in Lending Act
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)