BMA = fair? Certainly not for the Gilberts…
Wow. In three words, this is shoddy, shady, and shameful. It is also yet another example of why private arbitration is such a darling to the big business industry, and such a menace to... well, everyone else.
Matt Melamed and Paul Bland blog over at CL&P blog about some seriously suspect business on the part of an arbitrator, in a case filed by homeowners against a construction company that really went overboard with their horrible business practices.
Shoddy work: The contractors committed some major offenses, outlined in further detail by Melamed and Bland. They installed a shower improperly, on purpose, because they hadn't budgeted enough. The leakage from the shower caused significant damage to walls and floors. Speaking of floors, the contractors installed those improperly as well, violating national guidelines. Oh yes, and the front doors also leaked, causing water damage to the doorframes and floors. Oh, and the bedroom doors also leaked, but the company said they could fix this by just sealing the bedroom doors shut. (Er... what?) The list (really) goes on. Check out the CL&P post.
Shady Arbitrator: The arbitrator provided by CAS, Ben DeVries, ignored reliable testimony from both sides and awarded the family only $114,000 to fix $200,000 in clearly established damages. The arbitrator also took and held onto all the evidence "for safeguarding." But what happened when the plaintiffs tried to appeal? Shame, shame, shame...
Shameful Conduct: The arbitrator destroyed the evidence submitted at arbitration, as Melamed and Bland point out, "AFTER the plaintiffs had told him in writing that they planned to appeal the award and AFTER DeVries had promised to safeguard the evidence"... and, I might add, AFTER the Louisiana District Court ordered him not to! So now... CAS and DeVries both face a motion for contempt. As they well should!
And now, for some comic relief: "In response [to the contempt motion], CAS has graciously offered . . . a free arbitration proceeding." Laughable! Um.... thanks, but no thanks? Why send people through kangaroo court, when we know what individuals are going up against in these pseudo-judicial proceedings? Time and again we hear about cases like this, and shake our heads. Perhaps we think of them as off the wall cases that are ridiculous but not necessarily indicative of a larger problem. Let's change the way we think! Sometimes the public courts fail to produce fair outcomes, but the difference is that through our public courts we actually have accountability systems in place to fight those unfair outcomes--we have access to court records, an appeals process, and judges are actually required to follow the law.
Compare that to what the Gilberts got through arbitration... We need to ban pre-dispute binding mandatory arbitration contracts between corporations and individuals.