A Constant Attack on an Inalienable Right How Big Corporations Try to Keep You From a Jury Trial 99 Maple Street | Middlebury | VT | 05753 • 57 Court Street | Plattsburgh | NY | 12901 802-465-4012 • 518-594-6046 Champlain Val ley Law R. Drew Palcsik Attorney at Law PLLC
Like most of our fellow Americans, we couldn’t be happier to be celebrating the Fourth of July with our friends and family in this great country that we call home. The freedoms we are afforded in the United States are constant reminders of the foundations that paved the way for this land of opportunity. But sometimes, we forget just how important these rights are until we start to lose them. I find that one of the most important, but often overlooked, rights is the one provided by the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution: “In Suits at common law… the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.” The Seventh Amendment gives us each the right to a jury trial, which plays a key role in keeping our justice system as fair as possible. None of us want the alternative: our fundamental rights being determined by an unaccountable elite. Unfortunately, our right to a trial by jury is under attack by major corporations. Insurance companies work hard to build all sorts of loopholes and escape hatches into their contracts to take decision-making out of the hands of juries and into the hands of their cronies. One of the most troubling strategies many companies use is something called an arbitration agreement. Arbitration turns the whole idea of a jury trial on its head. Instead of your local courthouse, your case is decided in a conference room, where it’s heard by a professional arbitrator who acts as both judge and jury while hearing the details of your case. There is no jury of your peers anywhere in sight. It’s simply an efficient and predictable decision-making process that favors corporate interests and removes your right to a fair trial in front of a jury of your peers, which we are guaranteed in this country. Arbitration agreements are especially prevalent with one-sided consumer agreements. You may have even signed such an agreement with a company at one time or another. The agreement is written in legal jargon that many consumers may not understand, and that is by design. By signing on the dotted line, you are agreeing to take part in a mandatory arbitration hearing if you have a grievance with the company in question. Arbitration hearings tend to shake out pretty well for the company, while the client is cast into a real lurch.
The bottom line is that you will have a very slim chance of receiving a jury trial if this is the case, no matter how hard your attorney fights. As if that wasn’t enough, you can count on the arbitrators being unsympathetic with your standpoint. Look at it this way: If they went around handing out huge settlements to clients, they probably wouldn’t be professional arbitrators for very long. However, hope is not lost. Citizens are starting to realize just how unfair these trials are and asking themselves if they can keep standing by while this injustice takes place. Without a fair trial that is heard and decided by a jury panel made up of members of your community, we do not have the freedoms guaranteed to us by the Seventh Amendment. We want a fair system. My job as a trial lawyer is to tell your story to the jury — the story that helps them understand what kind of pain and suffering you’ve experienced because of the negligent party. You can rest assured knowing that I have spent my whole adult life training for this job. As long as we work together and make our voices be heard, we can see to it that you
get the representation and results you deserve, no matter how hard these corporations want to stop that from happening. To find out more about what I can do for you here at Champlain Valley Law, call us at (802) 465-4012 or visit our website ChamplainValleyLaw.com.
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