Jordan Fogal

Homeless in Houston (Vol 1.)

Are you sure your new home is protected? Are you sure your family will not join the growing ranks of the homeless? Are you sure you understand arbitration and tort reform? Are you sure that the American Arbitration Association hasn't already stealthily entered every phase of your life? Do you think you still have the right to a trial by a jury? Do you still think you can sue anyone who wrongs you? Do you still think people bring too many "frivolous" lawsuits? Do you tire of hearing any more about big business flagrantly squashing your rights? Do your eyes glaze over and does your mind shut down when you hear all these things? Are you bored by this rhetoric? Is it all just too complicated for you to understand?
I understand.

But, please read on. Because you have been completely deluded, confused, and overwhelmed ... these things will slip right by unnoticed.

If you have a new home, new car, a car lease, a Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover card, bank account, a cell phone, a storage room, electricity or even an exterminator, you have given up your seventh Amendment rights. You have given up your seventh amendment rights, and you didn’t even know it, because you cannot sue any of these people. Sounds crazy doesn't it? Well, call any of them and ask if you have an arbitration clause in your contract with them ... because you do.

We are bombarded daily, with harassing telemarketers and mailboxes full of trash offers and clutter. Our bills are stuffed with slick ads and offers. We don't have time to read all this junk……and therein is the problem. Big Business knows we don't. We are the new hurried fast food driven generation, the multi-taskers.... with more on our plates than we can handle. So big business has used your over burdened lifestyle to their distinct advantage. You are screwed. Those little offers or things you think are privacy propaganda in your bills aren’t that at all. They say "if you continue to use our services and do not pay off your account immediately, you now accept the following terms.....You have now accepted arbitration" ... and you didn't even read it.

Not one person in this country is not bound by an arbitration clause, and the shocking part of it is ... most don't even know it. But you will know when you become one of the enlightened and destroyed. And believe me; you do not want to be.

Ignorance is bliss ... and you can remain blissfully unaware of the dangers lurking that threaten you, your family, your home and your livelihood. But when it hits you, it will be a rude awakening ... like a two by four right between the eyes. Am I trying to scare you? You bet I am. Many of us do not have the time to watch Fear Factor because we live it daily. And you may have just signed on for a guest appearance.

Take your home for instance. You made your down payment. You make your payments on time, you paid your property tax, you have homeowners insurance. Your investment is safe. You are living the American Dream. Not so, Kimosabie. You have rolled the dice with your future, put all your money on the pass line, and you weren't even aware you were gambling.

Example: You have a lovely new home, all decorated, a manicured lawn, a place for your stuff, and somewhere to come home to. But what happens if you start having problems with that new house? You just call your builder for repairs, right? What if he doesn't answer your phone calls, faxes, or emails? What if the problem continues to worsen ... as you try to get him to live up to his moral and ethical responsibilities? You say, “well I have a contract.” And you do. will take the time to read all that raft of papers that were shoved at you at closing. Uh oh...earnest money contract, arbitration clause. Closing papers arbitration clause...warranty papers arbitration clause.
Your foundation is cracking, your walls have lines that weren't there before, the carpet is damp and your house is taking on a musty smell. Your children begin to be ill and Fido’s hair falls out. What are you going to do? Your wife is frantic. She is calling neighbors, many of whom experiencing the same sort of problems. Many do not want to admit it and "patch up and dump." Some will get by with it, until the new owner sues them. Yes, the new owner can sue you, just can't sue your big builder.

And yes, you all paid to have your house inspected and had a realtor and you called them all. You can start at the governor's office and they will refer you into a vortex of time-consuming, catch 22's that will make you crazy. You will end up lastly at the Health Department. They can try to help you find temporary housing ... soon, or maybe later....if you qualify and of course fill out the paper work.

You have now filled out paper work for every agency in the state. You stay up all night filling out this waste of time. Then, bleary eyed, you drag yourself to your day job. No one understands. They think you are a real putts and offer you their lawyer's phone number...thinking you just are not smart enough to handle your own affairs. Little do they know...yet.

They think they are not in any danger...and that you just do not understand how to handle these things.

You call you insurance know that agency that has you safe in their out stretched hands. That agency you pay those hefty premiums to each month. Guess what, substandard construction and builder defects are not covered items.

You are on the phone with your lawyer. He has looked over your papers, and informs you: YOU cannot sue your builder because you have signed an arbitration clause.

You say, "well let’s arbitrate ... it is faster and cheaper and my house is deteriorating as we speak. My investment is being destroyed." He really doesn't want the case, but will take it for a substantial upfront fee. He knows neither of you are going to be happy with the outcome, so he gets his upfront. Many of these legal eagles also have arbitration clauses in their own contracts: the contract you must sign to have legal representation. And you have to have a lawyer no matter what AAA arbitration tells you.

Your shower falls out. Black puffy balls are growing out of your carpet. Your windows are leaking, your hardwoods have begun to buckle, the children are sick, their eyes are all red, they have constant sore throats, you are having migraines you think from all the stress, your wife is crying, and her nose is bleeding ...and your cat just died. (Am I Exaggerating? No, unfortunately, I am not.) I am just reliving part of what happened in our neighborhood, compliments of our greedy, unethical, unscrupulous builder. He sold us our homes after filing a lawsuit against the roofer and subcontractors with no disclosure. Yes, I said, he sued ... the big boys still have the right to sue; this only applies to you and me, the little guys.

Arbitration is great protection for the mass builder. First, most of you can't afford it, and second if you can roll out 30,000 to 100,000 dollars it is still an unfair playing field. The builders team of high priced sleazy prostitutes can make chopped liver of you in short order. They do this for a living. In our case, one of the builders' law partners was/is also an AAA arbitrator. Would you want him to rule on your case?
Why didn't you repair your own house?

First, you didn't think that was your responsibility, it was the builders’. Second, you had no idea the amount of damage. And lastly, when you found out how many thousands of dollars it would cost ... you couldn't afford it.
You hadn't planned on the down payment, the new drapes, the new lawn mower, and then repairs? TO A BRAND NEW HOUSE! Did you figure an extra $20,000 to $150,000 for that in your budget? Like us, you probably bought a new home so repairs would not be an issue.

Well, guess what else you can't afford? You can't afford arbitration. Nobody tells you what it costs. The American Arbitration Association will not even give you a total cost, but if you can't afford it ... they will be more than happy to send you a form that authorizes them to just charge all their monstrous fees as they occur on to your credit cards - how ever many it takes. Do I have your attention now? Do you think you have entered the twilight zone? Well, welcome to our world.

Jordan Fogal: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 10:10 AM, Oct 27, 2006 in Mandatory Arbitration
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BTW Jordan Fogal is our newest guest contributor.

Posted by: Cyrus Dugger | October 28, 2006 2:09 PM