Congress Shot Down a Rule Meant to Preserve Your Right to a Jury Trial & What You Can Do About It

Arbitration can kill a consumer's case by preventing consumers from having their day in court. Many people who are ripped off by car dealers or subjected to automobile dealer fraud have no idea they relinquished their right to a jury trial by signing an arbitration clause.   The CFPB was taking steps to limit businesses ability to bar the doors to the courthouse and force people into expensive, business-friendly arbitration.   

Congress didn't do consumers any favors this week by killing the CFPB rule that was intended to protect consumers access to justice. However, there are still ways to stay out of arbitration. The NCLC article has identified the ways to combat arbitration clauses despite Congress' terrible decision. Click here to read more.

If you have additional questions call Oregon Consumer Lawyer Jeremiah Ross at Ross Law.  Call 503.224.1658 for your very breif free case evaluation.

The Dreaded Arbitration Clause- A Brief Explanation

Many of my consumer cases hinge on the dreaded arbitration clause.  Businesses often bury arbitration clauses in fine print, in difficult to understand language, and the business rarely advises a person they can opt out of the arbitration clause.   With that said,  you are probably wondering, what is the big deal with arbitration clauses?   

The big deal:  Arbitration Clauses strip you of your right to a jury of your peers.  Here in Oregon the vast majority of arbitrators are white males who have been practicing law for decades and decades.  Many of the arbitrators do their best to see things from both sides, but they typically are pretty hard on consumers that have signed things like "As-Is" disclosures or other agreements.  They do this because they are seeing things through the eyes of a lawyer and not a typical consumer who might be on the Jury.   Consumers see things from a real world perspective and understand why a consumer may act in a particular manner.  

Another big issue is cost, many times the consumer has to pay the arbitrator thousands of dollars to hear the case.   It doesn't make sense for a consumer to pay the arbitrator $3,000.00 to preside over a dispute over $5,000.00.  Additionally, Arbitration Clauses are often coupled with Attorney Fee clauses that could make the consumer liable for the businesses attorney fees if they lose.  This can be tens of thousands of dollars. 

Consumers are also crippled by arbitration rules of procedure.  Many arbitration services tout themselves as efficient.  What this means is the rules make it difficult for the parties to gather information from each other and third parties.  This typically always hurts the consumer, because the business has all of the records regarding the product and the sale.   In a products liability case or Nursing Home case that requires arbitration the injured person will have little documentary evidence, but the Nursing Home or product manufacturer will likely have documents that support the injured persons case.   

What to do:  First try and locate the arbitration clause.  This could turn into a full time job for some folks, because many expensive products and credit cards usually are accompanied by a arbitration clause. Sometimes they are buried in the Warranty paperwork or Instructions.  If possible opt out of the arbitration clause.  Also, you can draw a line through an arbitration clause.  Most businesses don't know what to do if that is the case.  If it is an on-line agreement your options are limited, but they may be there. 

If you want more information and a recent example, check out CBS's story on Arbitration Clauses and how Samsung is using it to deprive an injured person of compensation for injuries Samsung caused. 

If you have any questions about an arbitration clause call me at 503.224.1658 to discuss your options.  Please remember Ross Law's post is not legal advice and is for informational purposes only.   Also, remember the law is always changing so who knows if Arbitration clauses may be in vogue in the future. 


If you have a square space account like myself then you may be subject to an arbitration agreement and you may have waived your right to participate in a class action if things go bad.   This is due to the fact that Square Space's Terms of Service include an extensive Arbitration Clause and a Class Action Waiver.  

Why is Arbitration Terrible for Consumers:  Arbitration is terrible for consumers because it is expensive, the rules of evidence usually favor the business, and the arbitrators know that if they rule in the consumer's favor then the business (squarespace) may not choose them as an arbitrator again.  The consumer usually only has one case to arbitrate where squarespace may have hundreds or thousands of cases.   In my experience, arbitrators will throw the business a bone on cases that are good for consumers.  Sometimes it may be a reduced award (amount of money the consumer receives) other times the arbitrator will cut the award of the consumer's attorney fees.    The big issue with arbitration can be cost.  Many people cannot afford to pay the arbitrator's fees that can be thousands and thousands of dollars.  SquareSpace chose to use "Jams"  and this means that the consumer must pay $1500.00 to open their case with Jams plus the arbitrator must be paid an hourly rate.  That is why you should OPT OUT OF ARBITRATION AND THE CLASS ACTION WAIVER.

How Do You Opt Out of the SquareSpace Arbitration Agreement?  It is easy and takes two minutes at most.  Here is what Squrespace requires as of September 27, 2016 (this may change in the future):

6.3. Arbitration Opt-Out. You can decline this agreement to arbitrate by emailing us within thirty (30) days of the date that you first agree to this Agreement (“Opt-Out Period”). Your email must be sent from the email address you use for your Account, and must include your full name, residential address and a clear statement that you want to opt out of arbitration. If you opt out of arbitration pursuant to this Section 16.3, then Sections 16.2, 16.4, 16.5 and 16.6 of these Terms do not apply to you. This opt-out doesn’t affect any other sections of the Terms, including without limitation Sections 16.8 (Judicial Forum For Disputes; Time For Filing), 16.9 (No Class Actions) and 17.2 (Controlling Law). If you have any questions about this process, please contact


That is it.  If you have any questions about arbitration agreements feel free to call me at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law is always happy to assist consumers that may have been ripped off.   Please remember this post is not to be considered legal advice and may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.  ALSO, PLEASE RELY ON SQUARESPACE'S TERMS AND CONDITIONS, as this post may be outdated.