The Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in a case that could altogether do away with class-action lawsuits. This most unlikely case, involving a couple who got a “free” phone but was forced to pay sales tax, is being touted as one of the most important consumer rights cases to come before the high court in years. AT&T, with the backing of the banking and utilities industries, argued that the arbitration clause in their fine print prohibits customers from taking part in class-action lawsuits. The company maintains that the suits are costly and wind up benefiting lawyers more than consumers. Others say forcing customers into arbitration rather than court tilts the balance of justice in favor or corporations. Will this be a victory for consumers or corporations?
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