About one year ago, the Supreme Court handed down its most significant pro-corporate decision since Citizens United — a decision which empowered corporations to force their workers and consumers to completely sign away their ability to hold the corporation accountable in a class action lawsuit. As the New York Times reports, this case, AT&T v. Concepcion, has now been invoked at least 76 times to stop a class action from moving forward.
As ThinkProgress explained a year ago when Concepcion was handed down, the practical impact of this decision is that corporations have almost free reign to illegally nickel and dime their workers and consumers out of a few dollars at a time:
Imagine that your cell phone company cheated you out of just $30. Would you sue? Bear in mind that filing a lawsuit will require you to spend hour upon hour filing out forms and drafting complaints and dealing with legal codes that you probably know little about. Of course you can always hire a lawyer, but your lawyer’s hourly fee will eat up all of the $30 you stand to win in just a few minutes. In other words, you, like just about everyone else in the world who is scammed out of just a few dollars, you will probably give the lawsuit a pass.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem — the class action lawsuit. If your cell phone company cheated you and you alone, you’re out of luck. But if they systematically scammed thousands of their customers out of the same $30 — nickel and diming their way to huge profits — the law allows all of you to join together into a class action lawsuit and make sure that the company is held accountable.
That is, of course, until [now].
The significant number of suits dismissed thanks to Concepcion confirms that corporate America is already taking advantage of the gift the Court’s conservative justices gave them last year. In one of those cases, for example, a group of U.S. servicemembers who allegedly were illegally required to pay a few hundred dollars each by the Nissan car company were denied their ability to join together in a class action.