Presse, an international news agency, for an article about interest in American crime docudramas, such as “Serial” and “Making of a Murderer.” In the interview, Dean Cunningham is quoted about exonerations, innocence investigations by journalists, and the O.J. Simpson trial. The piece has been picked up by publications in Australia, Singapore, Bahrain, and others.
The New York Times published a letter from Professor Jeff Sovern on December 30 on debt collection and arbitration. Sovern wrote in part:
You show that debt collectors sue consumers in court when it suits them but bar consumers from bringing court actions by invoking obscure arbitration clauses in consumer contracts.
Businesses defend their right to do so because, they claim, arbitration is better than court for resolving disputes. But if arbitration is superior, why do businesses want to sue in court, rather than arbitrate, as your article shows and an empirical study confirms?
The answer is that businesses value arbitration chiefly when it enables them to block class actions so they may take advantage of consumers for small amounts without worrying about consumers suing them.
Professor Michael Perino was on CBS last night discussing the indictment of pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, who was charged (together with his lawyer) with fraud on a massive scale. You can view the clip here.
The American Banker has run Professor Jeff Sovern’s op-ed, CFPB Arbitration Plan Provokes Dubious Industry Claims. Sovern notes:
[C]ompanies can use class action waivers to block consumer protection laws unless consumer protection laws find a way to block class action waivers.
* * *
Last month, the bureau made public a proposal to block class action waivers in arbitration clauses. A leading advocate for arbitration in the financial industry, Alan Kaplinsky, responded with [a] forecast of how the industry would respond: “We firmly believe that, should the CFPB enact its proposal to ban class action waivers, most companies will abandon arbitration with the result that arbitration will no longer be available as a quick, efficient and inexpensive way of resolving disputes.”
But if the industry truly believes that arbitration is so much better than litigation at resolving disputes, shouldn’t it prefer arbitration to litigation for resolving individual disputes, where there is not a threat of a class action? Or should we be shocked, shocked, to discover the industry’s love of arbitration is about barring class actions?
The Los Angeles Times quoted Professor Jeff Sovern in an article titled Using TiVo? Your personal choices may be going straight to advertisers. Consumer columnist David Lazarus explains:
If you’re a TiVo user, your digital video recorder may be ratting you out to advertisers.
In the latest example of consumer privacy being threatened by Big Data, TiVo’s number-crunching subsidiary this week announced a partnership with media heavyweight Viacom that helps advertisers target TV viewers with specific commercials.
* * *
Jeff Sovern, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law in New York, called this an “unfortunate” way of getting subscribers to agree to having their personal information exploited for marketing purposes.
“Unless TiVo actually makes an additional effort to tell its customers what it is doing, probably many will think that information about their viewing choices is not being given to others, when it is,” he said.
Professor Greenberg has been selected this year by Best Lawyers in America as among the top New York lawyers in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution, an honor she has received every year since 2005. Professor Greenberg has also been recognized by the American Registry as among the top 5% of America’s Most Honored Professionals, a cross-industry and cross-profession award to successful professionals recognized for professional excellence.
Professor Greenberg has been appointed to the Executive Board of the New York State Bar Association Entertainment and Sports Law Section. She is co-chair of their ADR Committee.
On August 25, 2015, Professor Greenberg conducted an implicit bias training designed for senior management at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Virginia.
On October 23, 2015, Professor Greenberg presented her paper “Changing Hearts, Changing Minds – Empathy, the Rule of Law and Implicit Discrimination” at the ADR Works in Progress Conference held at Texas A & M Law School.
Jeff Sovern, a consumer rights expert and law professor at St. John’s University, spoke with Legal Newsline about this case. He said the verdict will likely be determined by what is expected of consumers.
“It sounds like the Best Buy offer was a typo. Courts have sometimes held advertisers liable for not living up to a price printed in error,” Sovern told Legal Newsline. “False advertising laws generally focus on whether a consumer would have been deceived by the ad.”
* * *
“My own guess is that a reasonable consumer would recognize that was a typo,” Sovern said. “But other laws ask whether the ad would fool the credulous consumer. Maybe a credulous consumer would have been deceived.”
NBC.com’s “Consumer Man,” Herb Weisbaum, quoted Professor Jeff Sovern in the story FTC Sues Diet Pill Maker For Trying To Silence Unhappy Customers. Weisbaum wrote:
With the Internet, companies risk the possibility of getting a bad review that isn’t justified. But the solution isn’t to limit speech, rather to encourage more speech, said Jeff Sovern, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law in New York City.
“I think consumers are smart enough to realize that just because one or two people say they’re unhappy doesn’t mean the company is a bad company or selling a bad product,” he said. “And if the company is selling good products, presumably other consumers will say so on these sites and that will outweigh the ones who are unfairly maligning the company.”
Professor Sovern noted that for the free market to work as intended, people need to be able to warn others about bad products or services. Otherwise, how will other consumers know which products to avoid?
Professor Jeff Sovern’s op-ed, “Arbitration Clauses for Credit Cards Cost Consumers,” appeared in the Boston Globe on May 25. A bit:
Businesses say it doesn’t matter that consumers don’t understand arbitration clauses, because they insist consumers fare better in arbitration than in court.
Recently, however, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — a creation of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — released a massive report that shows arbitration benefits businesses at the expense of consumers.
* * *
Arbitration clauses have long caused confusion, but the Bureau’s report has provided some clarity — it’s time for them to be banned from consumer contracts.