Friday, November 5, 2010

Consumers' right to file class actions is in danger

image (visitingdc.com)
David Lazarus
LA Times

If AT&T has its way before the Supreme Court, any business that issues a contract to customers would be able to prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits, taking away arguably the most powerful legal tool available to the little guy.

It hasn't gotten a lot of press, but a case involving AT&T that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court next week has sweeping ramifications for potentially millions of consumers.

f a majority of the nine justices vote the telecom giant's way, any business that issues a contract to customers — such as for credit cards, cellphones or cable TV — would be able to prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits.

This would take away in such cases arguably the most powerful legal tool available to the little guy, particularly in cases involving relatively small amounts of money. Class-action suits allow plaintiffs to band together in seeking compensation or redress, thus giving substantially more heft to their claims.

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