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Senate Judiciary Committee Testimony for Today’s Arbitration Fairness Hearing (Oct. 13).

Sen. Al Franken, D., Minn., just wrapped up about two hours of testimony on the fairness of business’s use of mandatory arbitration.  

Franken has assailed the use of mandatory processes by businesses in disputes against consumers.  He re-introduced a revamped Arbitration Fairness Act last May in rapid response to the April U.S. Supreme Court decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, No 09-893, which allows corporations to ban class arbitrations. The bill won't get through the Republican-controlled House, but served as a springboard to today's hearings, which excoriated alternative dispute resolution processes that have used arbitration as a debt collection device.

Today, Franken repeatedly emphasized his focus was on mandatory pre-dispute processes, noting at the outset that there are "some areas where post-dispute arbitration should be encouraged."

Here are the witnesses, and their testimony, at today's hearing, “Arbitration: Is It Fair When Forced?”:

The Honorable Lori Swanson
Attorney General
St. Paul, MN
>download testimony here

Dr. Deborah Pierce
Associate Director, Department of Emergency Medicine
Einstein at Elkins Park Hospital
Elkins Park, PA
>download testimony here

Paul Bland
Senior Attorney
Public Justice
Washington, DC
>download testimony here

Victor E. Schwartz, Esq.
Partner, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Washington, DC
>download testimony here

Professor Christopher R. Drahozal
John M. Rounds Professor of Law
Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development
University of Kansas School of Law
Lawrence, KS
>download testimony here

The CPR Institute live tweeted the hearing at the International Dispute Negotiation podcast's Twitter account at, where you can see the highlights from the comments and the question period.

--Russ Bleemer, Editor, Alternatives