Here is a link to a post on Huffington Post by AJJ President Gibson Vance titled “Constitutional Conservatives and the Seventh Amendment”
The article discusses our Congress focusing on constitutional rights while at the same time overlooking the Seventh Amendment constitutional right to jury trials. The restriction on a constitutional right to jury trials can come in several forms, including tort reform, as well as one sided arbitration agreements.
In the context of bringing of claims by crewmembers injured aboard cruise ship companies, we are seeing an increasing number of employment agreements that insert mandatory arbitration clauses requiring a crewmember to bring any claims, including personal injury claims in an arbitration proceeding. Without the arbitration clause present in the employment agreement, the seaman or crewmember would be entitled to bring personal injury claims under a Federal Statute called the Jones Act, which provides for the right of a jury trial. The arbitration clause inserted in a take it or leave it employment agreement requires the crewmember to unknowingly give up his right to a jury trial.
There are many mandatory arbitration agreements that are inserted in consumer contracts, and other one sided type agreements. There is increasing concerns that these provisions take away the constitutional right to a jury trial and only benefit the party requiring the arbitration provision.
Hopefully, Congress, as well as the Courts, will pay attention to the attempts of big business and large corporations to deprive individuals of the constitutional right to a jury trial by inserting device mandatory arbitration clauses in the one sided agreements.
Our maritime firm has been fighting hard to deny enforcement of arbitration clauses in seaman employment contracts because they are unfair, one sided, and deny the seaman of his rights under the Jones Act, including the right to a jury trial.