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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Alderman on the Effects of the Vanishing Jury in Consumer Disputes

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Richard Alderman, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center has recently published The Future of Consumer Law in the United States – Hello Arbitration, Bye-Bye Courts, So-Long Consumer Protection

Arbitration of consumer disputes has become the norm rather than the exception. Although attempts to dispute the enforceability of arbitration are occasionally successful, it is clear that until Congress takes action the use arbitration will become more and more widespread. It is possible that all consumer disputes may soon be “privatized” and removed from our judicial system. Many have written about the ills of arbitration and the legal basis for attacking arbitration clauses. This article does not attempt to review all of that literature. Instead, it suggests that arbitration of consumer disputes must be prohibited for one simple reason – our system of government needs the judicial branch and in the consumer arena it is slowly disappearing. The vanishing jury trial is a “hot topic” generally, but when it comes to consumer disputes the vanishing jury trial, accompanied by the disappearing appellate decision, threatens to undermine our system of regulating the consumer market place. The article concludes that enactment of the recently proposed Arbitration Fairness Act is the only way to reverse this trend and let our courts play the role their proper role.

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Category: university of houston


2 Responses

  1. Jordan Fogal says:

    Consumers cringe as holidays approach after housing debacle
    Some just wish they had a home for Christmas
    The “Lemon Lady,” Houston grandmother Jordan Fogal, testifies colorfully against Texas homebuilder mandatory binding arbitration provisions to a congressional subcommittee in Washington:

    The first night in our new home, my husband decided to try out his new Jacuzzi tub on the third floor. When he pulled the plug, one hundred gallons of water crashed through our dining room ceiling. . . .

    Well, this was not one overlooked plumbing connection, as my husband so desperately wanted to believe. It was a preview of coming attractions. Rainwater, from outside, sprayed us at the kitchen table. – The windows were installed upside down (our builder finally admitted this after three years). Our floors buckled and black spider-webs of mold crawled up our walls; the smell grew worse; then shower wall fell out and little puffballs grew out of the carpet. All the while, we had begged our builder to please fix our house.

    We had the mold tested by an accredited laboratory, and they said they had never seen toxic readings that high in an inhabited dwelling.

    The story of Fogal’s Hyde Park Crescent home was detailed in Mother Jones magazine two years ago; she also plays a part in this Houston Press report about the lucky owner of another Tremont Homes/Jorge Casimiro opus.

    Written Testimony Submitted by Jordan Fogal To The Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law: “Mandatory Binding Arbitration Agreements: Are They Fair For Consumers?” [U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, via Bay Area Houston]
    Home Sour Home [Mother Jones]
    Ownership Wrongs [Houston Press]
    Photo: Brewster McCloud

  2. Jordan Fogal says:

    Dear Attorney General Swanson:

    First, thank you so much for all your efforts on behalf of your consumers. In your efforts you have helped victims in all 50 states. I am faxing you some of the headlines of articles, there are sixty or so on the Internet if you google my name, but I ask you please go to my web sight. My written testimony to the congressional committee on arbitration and AAA is 26 pages long. I have been though arbitration with AAA twice over the same matter. How many times can you be forced into that abyss?

    I want to help you and your constituents and the people of this country. People like us that have been preyed upon by big business telling us it was a good thing and stabbing us in the back. I have personally met with Mr. Richard Namark VP of AAA. He knows exactly what he and AAA are doing. He knows what is going on and does not care. I handed him over 15 horrible cases with pictures and ask him to read them on his way back to New York City. They are like stepford people. They have no feelings. There is no empathy for the human suffering they have caused. They learn how to get you, calmly and swiftly like a great white shark. Quietly consumers are picked off one by one. There is not even a danger sign warning us the waters are infested.

    Again thank you, most sincerely. I hope I can be of help.

    Jordan Fogal

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