While I personally have mixed feelings about arbitration (it can be a relatively fast and cheap way to address a wrong in certain circumstances) the Times' great series on the serial abuse of arbitration clauses should be mandatory reading for all consumers. The reporting details how arbitration clauses have found their way into dispute resolution of everything "from botched home renovations to medical malpractice" and are being used to prevent consumers from seeking redress through use of class action lawsuits, which are invaluable for correcting widespread misbehavior with small individual damages that make it impossible for a particular consumer to address acting alone. "Some state judges have called the class-action bans a “get out of jail free” card, because it is nearly impossible for one individual to take on a corporation with vast resources."
This week's reporting also lays out how Chief Justice John Roberts once failed at convincing the Supreme Court to hear a dispute regarding whether arbitration agreements can ban class action lawsuits, and then was able to revisit the issue once he joined the court, approving class-action bans in 2010. Mandatory arbitration clauses lock the courthouse doors for many people seeking redress for corporate wrongdoing, and the NYT's series is an in-depth and valuable call to arms.