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Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Abstract

State consumer protection laws protect the public against unfair and deceptive trade practices. Plaintiffs seeking to invoke such consumer protection laws often bring class action suits to vindicate their rights. However, some jurisdictions have recently shown a willingness to enforce contract arbitration clauses that contain class action waivers. Such waivers prevent consumers from invoking class action status, and may also prevent them from enforcing relevant state consumer protection laws. Other courts, by contrast, have held that service contracts containing class action waivers violate relevant state consumer protection laws and are against public policy. Yet another group of courts facing the issue of class action waiver enforcement has held that relevant federal statutes preempt consumer claims brought under state law. This Article discusses this jurisdictional split on the issue of class action waivers and arbitration as they appear in telecommunication and wireless contracts. This Article also considers the implications of this jurisdictional divide for both businesses and wireless consumers.

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