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PRR 60

New Amtrak Arbitration Agreement

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Amtrak is not covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act; there are several cases that establish that Amtrak is not a federal agency.  (I know some of the attorneys representing victims from the  Cascades crash; they are convinced that precedents bar application of the FTCA.  What is less clear is the degree to which the Federal Railway Safety Act may preempt state tort law.)

But back to the main topic here--arbitration. The  existence of mandatory arbitration in consumer  contracts is a classic case of market failure.  Take cable tv, for example. Every cable company requires binding arbitration, so there's no ability to choose for consumers.  Well, of course, there's always satellite tv... oh, wait, they require arbitration, too.  Okay, so I'll cut the cord and get Netflix...ah, nuts, they require arbitration. So does Hulu.  In fact, the entire industry does. And it is just one of many industries where consumers have no choice. Read the fine print in almost any service or product you buy and, you've lost your constitutional right to access the courts. These arbitration clauses can be amazingly comprehensive, taking away your right to sue even for intentional misconduct such as fraud, theft, and assault. 

The irony is that many corporations are now insisting on one-way arbitration clauses--you, the buyer is limited to arbitration, they, the seller, retains the right to choose arbitration or court action if they prefer. If arbitration is so efficient and wonderful, why do you think corporations are so anxious to preserve their right to trial in court and to extinguish yours?  Food for thought...

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