AARP's brief, filed by attorneys with AARP Foundation Litigation, argues that Carnival's arbitration clause eviscerates Florida's consumer protection laws. Consumer protection laws are in large part designed to be enforced by private lawsuit rather than by a regulatory agency. Forced individual arbitration essentially shuts the door to any enforcement because it is too difficult and expensive, if not impossible, for most consumers to pursue a remedy.
The brief outlines the way in which class action bans harm consumers. By design, forced arbitration makes litigation or arbitration arising out of the same set of facts and law so expensive and difficult that few, if any, consumers ever seek to enforce their rights. In contrast, a class action allows a large number of claims to be disposed of in a single, efficient proceeding and holds defendants accountable for corporate policies that harm large numbers of people. Without the class mechanism, corporations are able to keep all of their ill-gotten gains because individuals are unable to challenge effectively the unlawful or deceptive practices.
What's at Stake
If the court enforces the class action ban, older consumers will lose their day in court to challenge many business practices that are fraudulent, deceptive and unfair under Florida state laws. By reducing redress for people harmed by business practices, one of the most important incentives for companies to maintain high standards — its financial self interest — will be lost, and the standard in the overall marketplace will deteriorate.