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Full-Text Articles in Law

What Do Consumers Understand About Predispute Arbitration Agreements? An Empirical Investigation, Roseanna Sommers Feb 2024

What Do Consumers Understand About Predispute Arbitration Agreements? An Empirical Investigation, Roseanna Sommers

Articles

The results of a survey of 1,071 adults in the United States reveal that most consumers do not pay attention to, let alone understand, arbitration clauses in their everyday lives. The vast majority of survey respondents (over 97%) report having opened an account with a company that requires disputes to be submitted to binding arbitration (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Cash App, a phone or cable company), yet most are unaware that they have, in fact, agreed to mandatory arbitration (also known as “forced arbitration”). Indeed, over 99% of respondents who think they have never entered into an arbitration agreement likely have …


The Private Attorney General In A Time Of Hyper-Polarized Politics, Myriam E. Gilles Jul 2023

The Private Attorney General In A Time Of Hyper-Polarized Politics, Myriam E. Gilles

Articles

With the enactment of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”) in 1914 and the Wheeler–Lea Act in 1938, Congress sought to establish a brawny federal consumer protection regime to guard against the myriad unfair and deceptive practices that threatened harm to American consumers. But courts in this era interpreted these statutes to confer exclusive enforcement authority in the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), declining to infer a private right of action. For many decades, the resulting enforcement gap in consumer protection law was filled largely by state Unfair and Deceptive Practices Acts (“UDAPs”), which sanction litigation by both public and …


Mandating Repair Scores, Aaron Perzanowski Mar 2023

Mandating Repair Scores, Aaron Perzanowski

Articles

Restrictions on the repair of consumer goods have generated no shortage of policy proposals. This Article considers the empirical and legal case for one particular intervention—requiring firms to calculate and disclose their products’ scores on a uniform reparability index. These repair scores would provide consumers with salient information at or before the point of sale, enabling them to compare products on the basis of the ease and cost of repair. There is considerable empirical research, including assessments of France’s implementation of a similar requirement in recent years, suggesting that repair scores would both inform and empower consumers. Despite likely First …


From The Editors In Chief, Kathleen Claussen, Sergio Puig, Michael Waibel Mar 2023

From The Editors In Chief, Kathleen Claussen, Sergio Puig, Michael Waibel

Articles

No abstract provided.


At The Nexus Of Antitrust & Consumer Protection, Luke Herrine Jan 2023

At The Nexus Of Antitrust & Consumer Protection, Luke Herrine

Articles

This Essay uses Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act to examine the theoretical and practical relationship between antitrust and consumer protection law. It argues that, since roughly 1980, there has been a hegemonic "neoliberal"framework, one that has in recent years been challenged by an emerging "moral economy" framework. The neoliberal framework conceptualizes antitrust as preventing firms from conspiring to throttle output, with a focus primarily on consumers' interests in low prices, and consumer protection as making consumers informed, rational, and able to switch between competitors with relatively low cost. The moral economy framework conceptualizes both areas of law …


Title Theft, Stewart E. Sterk Jan 2023

Title Theft, Stewart E. Sterk

Articles

Real property owners across the country have been targeted by scammers who prepare deeds purporting to convey title to property the scammers do not own. Sometimes, the true owners are entirely unaware of these bogus transfers. In other instances, the scammers use misrepresentation to induce unsophisticated owners to sign documents they do not understand.

Property doctrine protects owners against forgery and fraud—the primary vehicles scammers use in their efforts to transfer title. Owners enjoy protection not only against the scammers themselves, but generally against unsuspecting purchasers to whom the scammers transfer purported title.

Recovery of title, however, involves costs and …


Dynamic Pricing Algorithms, Consumer Harm, And Regulatory Response, Alexander Mackay, Samuel Weinstein Nov 2022

Dynamic Pricing Algorithms, Consumer Harm, And Regulatory Response, Alexander Mackay, Samuel Weinstein

Articles

Pricing algorithms are rapidly transforming markets, from ride-sharing, to air travel, to online retail. Regulators and scholars have watched this development with a wary eye. Their focus so far has been on the potential for pricing algorithms to facilitate explicit and tacit collusion. This Article argues that the policy challenges pricing algorithms pose are far broader than collusive conduct. It demonstrates that algorithmic pricing can lead to higher prices for consumers in competitive markets and even in the absence of collusion. This consumer harm can be initiated by a single firm employing a superior pricing algorithm. Higher prices arise from …


Product Liability Action: A Tooth To Strengthen Consumer Protection, Ashok R. Patil Aug 2022

Product Liability Action: A Tooth To Strengthen Consumer Protection, Ashok R. Patil

Articles

As the world shifts to technological advancements, the advent of e-commerce marks its peak, particularly in India, where it has been earmarked as the fastest growing market with an annual growth rate of 51%. While these developments are an important part of globalization, a few challenges come along. Issues like unfair contracts, privacy, data protection, faulty goods, refund or return remained unaddressed as the earlier existing Consumer Protection Act, 1986 did not elucidate on the same. Given the above, the Law Commission of India had recommended that a separate law be enacted for better consumer protection. Based on the recommendations …


Autonomous Vehicle Regulation & Trust: The Impact Of Failures To Comply With Standards, William H. Widen, Phillip Koopman Apr 2022

Autonomous Vehicle Regulation & Trust: The Impact Of Failures To Comply With Standards, William H. Widen, Phillip Koopman

Articles

The autonomous vehicle (AV) industry works very hard to create public trust in both AV technology and its developers. Building trust is part of a strategy to permit the industry itself to manage the testing and deployment of AV technology without regulatory interference. This article explains how industry actions to promote trust (both individually and collectively) have created concerns rather than comfort with this emerging technology. The article suggests how the industry might change its current approach to law and regulation from an adversarial posture to a more cooperative one in which a space is created for government regulation consistent …


Portraits Of Bankruptcy Filers, Pamela Foohey, Robert M. Lawless, Deborah Thorne Apr 2022

Portraits Of Bankruptcy Filers, Pamela Foohey, Robert M. Lawless, Deborah Thorne

Articles

One in ten adult Americans has turned to the consumer bankruptcy system for help. For almost forty years, the only systematic data collection about the people who file bankruptcy has come from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project (CBP), for which we serve as co-principal investigators. In this Article, we use CBP data from 2013 to 2019 to describe who is using the bankruptcy system, providing the first comprehensive overview of bankruptcy filers in thirty years. We use principal component analysis to leverage these data to identify distinct groups of people who file bankruptcy. This technique allows us to situate the distinctions …


What Is Consumer Protection For?, Luke Herrine Jan 2022

What Is Consumer Protection For?, Luke Herrine

Articles

When law and economics barreled its way into consumer protection scholarship two score years ago, it brought with it the consumer sovereignty framework: an approach to analysis in which actual markets are compared to an ideal market in which consumers optimize exogenous welfare functions by choosing between optimally competitive sellers. Even after two decades of behavioralist critique and even with increasingly critical perspectives taking root since the Global Financial Crisis, this consumer sovereignty ideal continues to serve as both a descriptive and normative baseline for consumer protection scholarship.

This Article argues that it is time to reconsider the consumer sovereignty …


Addictive Technology And Its Implications For Antitrust Enforcement, James Niels Rosenquist, Fiona M. Scott Morton, Samuel N. Weinstein Jan 2022

Addictive Technology And Its Implications For Antitrust Enforcement, James Niels Rosenquist, Fiona M. Scott Morton, Samuel N. Weinstein

Articles

The advent of mobile devices and digital media platforms in the past decade represents the biggest shock to cognition in human history. Robust medical evidence is emerging that digital media platforms are addictive and, when used in excess, harmful to users’ mental health. Other types of addictive products, like tobacco and prescription drugs, are heavily regulated to protect consumers. Currently, there is no regulatory structure protecting digital media users from these harms. Antitrust enforcement and regulation that lowers entry barriers could help consumers of social media by increasing competition. Economic theory tells us that more choice in digital media will …


The Rules Of Professional Responsibility And Legal Finance: A Status Update, Anthony J. Sebok Jan 2022

The Rules Of Professional Responsibility And Legal Finance: A Status Update, Anthony J. Sebok

Articles

Legal finance occurs when strangers fund litigation for profit. Traditionally looked upon with suspicion in the common law, and limited by the doctrines of champerty and maintenance, legal finance is now a thriving part of the American legal landscape. Legal finance has been promoted as a solution to the access-to-justice problems facing working and middle class Americans, as well as a new asset class for Wall Street. At the center of legal finance, however, are lawyers – not the lawyers who write the contracts for the financing – but the lawyers for the cases being financed.

Over the past decade, …


Contract Schemas, Roseanna Sommers Oct 2021

Contract Schemas, Roseanna Sommers

Articles

This review draws on the notion of “contract schemas” to characterize what ordinary people think is happening when they enter into contractual arrangements. It proposes that contracts are schematically represented as written documents filled with impenetrable text containing hidden strings, which are routinely signed without comprehension. This cognitive template, activated whenever people encounter objects with these characteristic features, confers certain default assumptions, associations, and expectancies. A review of the literature suggests that contract schemas supply (a) the assumption that terms will be enforced as written, (b) the feeling that one is obligated to perform, and (c) the sense that one …


Bursting The Auto Loan Bubble In The Wake Of Covid-19, Pamela Foohey Jul 2021

Bursting The Auto Loan Bubble In The Wake Of Covid-19, Pamela Foohey

Articles

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, auto loans outstanding in the United States had soared to record highs. The boom in lending spanned new and used cars and traditional and subprime loans. With loan delinquencies also hitting new highs almost every quarter, predictions that the auto lending market could burst soon abounded. When the economy came to a grinding halt and unemployment skyrocketed in the wake of the pandemic, auto lenders knew they were facing a crisis. Throughout 2020, auto lenders granted more payment forbearances to consumers, while slashing interest rates on new loans. Auto manufacturers similarly made promises to buyers, such …


Unwaivable: Public Enforcement Claims And Mandatory Arbitration, Myriam E. Gilles, Gary Friedman Nov 2020

Unwaivable: Public Enforcement Claims And Mandatory Arbitration, Myriam E. Gilles, Gary Friedman

Articles

This essay, written for a conference on the “pathways and hurdles” that lie ahead in consumer litigation, is the first to examine the implications of California’s recent jurisprudence holding public enforcement claims unwaivable in standard-form contracts of adhesion, and the inevitable clash with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisional law interpreting the Federal Arbitration Act. With its rich history of rebuffing efforts to deprive citizens of public rights through private contract, California provides an ideal laboratory for exploring this escalating conflict.


Consumer Psychology And The Problem Of Fine Print Fraud, Roseanna Sommers, Meirav Furth-Matzkin Mar 2020

Consumer Psychology And The Problem Of Fine Print Fraud, Roseanna Sommers, Meirav Furth-Matzkin

Articles

This Article investigates consumers' beliefs about contracts that are formed as a result of fraud. Across four studies, we asked lay survey respondents to judge scenarios in which sellers use false representations to induce consumers to buy products or services. In each case, the false representations are directly contradicted by the written terms of the contract, which the consumers sign without reading. Our findings reveal that lay respondents, unlike legally trained respondents, believe that such agreements are consented to and will be enforced as written, despite the seller's material deception. Importantly, fine print discourages consumers from wanting to take legal …


Regulating Foreign Commerce Through Multiple Pathways: A Case Study, Kathleen Claussen Jan 2020

Regulating Foreign Commerce Through Multiple Pathways: A Case Study, Kathleen Claussen

Articles

This Essay looks at the regulation of foreign distilled spirits coming into the United States as a lens through which to understand how trade commitments become a part of U.S. law. The experience of distilled spirits in the last forty years demonstrates that trade agreements have the power to create new domestic rules, to lock in rules already on the books, and to be entirely powerless in the face of executive branch intransigence. But this story is just one illustration of competing authorities and unclear allegiances among the branches when it comes to issues of cross-border movement of goods and …


Disabling Fascism: A Struggle For The Last Laugh In Trump’S America, Madeleine M. Plasencia Jan 2020

Disabling Fascism: A Struggle For The Last Laugh In Trump’S America, Madeleine M. Plasencia

Articles

Six years before the start of the Second World War and seven months after Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany, the German government instituted the “Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases.” The moral depravity that started as a sterilization program targeting “useless eaters” and lives “unworthy of life” degenerated into a “euthanasia” program that murdered at least 250,000 people with mental and physical dis/abilities as an “open secret” until 1941, when the Bishop of Munster, Clemens August Count von Galen, delivered a sermon protesting the killing of “unproductive people.”2 Although the Trump Administration has not yet driven …


An Empirical Investigation Of Third Party Consumer Litigant Funding, Ronen Avraham, Anthony J. Sebok Jul 2019

An Empirical Investigation Of Third Party Consumer Litigant Funding, Ronen Avraham, Anthony J. Sebok

Articles

This is the first large-scale empirical study of consumer third-party litigation funding in the United States. Despite being part of the American legal system for more than two decades there has been almost no real data-driven empirical study to date. We analyzed funding requests from American consumers in over 100,000 cases over a twelve year period. This proprietary data set was provided to us by one of the largest consumer litigation funder in the United States.

Our results are striking and important. We find that the funder plays an important role in the American legal system by screening cases. Our …


Are Literary Agents (Really) Fiduciaries?, Jacqueline Lipton Jul 2019

Are Literary Agents (Really) Fiduciaries?, Jacqueline Lipton

Articles

2018 was a big year for “bad agents” in the publishing world. In July, children’s literature agent Danielle Smith was exposed for lying to her clients about submissions and publication offers. In December, major literary agency Donadio & Olson, which represented a number of bestselling authors, including Chuck Palahnuik (Fight Club), filed for bankruptcy in the wake of an accounting scandal involving their bookkeeper, Darin Webb. Webb had embezzled over $3 million of client funds. Around the same time, Australian literary agent Selwa Anthony lost a battle in the New South Wales Supreme Court involving royalties she owed to her …


Online Dispute Resolution, Ronald A. Brand Jan 2019

Online Dispute Resolution, Ronald A. Brand

Articles

This chapter was prepared from a presentation given by the author at the 2019 Summer School in Transnational Commercial Law & Technology, jointly sponsored by the University of Verona School of Law and the Center for International Legal Education (CILE) of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. In the paper, I review online dispute resolution (ODR) by considering the following five questions, which I believe help to develop a better understanding of both the concept and the legal framework surrounding it:

A. What is ODR?

B. Who does ODR?

C. What is the legal framework for ODR?

D. What …


Fintech: Antidote To Rent-Seeking?, Jeremy Kidd Jan 2018

Fintech: Antidote To Rent-Seeking?, Jeremy Kidd

Articles

Fintech is a reality of our modern society, and will likely become even more so in the future. Peer-to-peer lending, cybercurrencies, smart contracts, algorithmic lending, and more, have required adaptation by consumers and producers of financial services. Our modes of doing business will continue to be challenged and changed by these and other Fintech innovations, almost certainly expanding beyond merely “promot[ing] financial inclusion, expand[ing] access to capital for individuals and small businesses, and more broadly reshap[ing] how society interacts with financial services.” By reducing transaction costs, advancing technology opens the doors to innovations the likes of which we might not …


Ascertainability: Prose, Policy, And Process, Rhonda Wasserman Jan 2018

Ascertainability: Prose, Policy, And Process, Rhonda Wasserman

Articles

One of the most hotly contested issues in class action practice today is ascertainability – when and how the identities of individual class members must be ascertained. The courts of appeals are split on the issue, with courts in different circuits imposing dramatically different burdens on putative class representatives. Courts adopting a strict approach require the class representative to prove that there is an administratively feasible means of determining whether class members are part of the class. This burden may be insurmountable in consumer class actions because people tend not to save receipts for purchases of low-cost consumer goods, like …


The Taking Economy: Uber, Information, And Power, Ryan Calo, Alex Rosenblat Jan 2017

The Taking Economy: Uber, Information, And Power, Ryan Calo, Alex Rosenblat

Articles

Sharing economy firms such as Uber and Airbnb facilitate trusted transactions between strangers on digital platforms. This creates economic and other value but raises concerns around racial bias, safety, and fairness to competitors and workers that legal scholarship has begun to address. Missing from the literature, however, is a fundamental critique of the sharing economy grounded in asymmetries of information and power.

This Essay, coauthored by a law professor and a technology ethnographer who studies work, labor, and technology, furnishes such a critique and proposes a meaningful response through updates to consumer protection law. Commercial firms have long used what …


How Privacy Distorted Standing Law, Felix T. Wu Jan 2017

How Privacy Distorted Standing Law, Felix T. Wu

Articles

No abstract provided.


Why Intra-Brand Dealer Competition Is Irrelevant To The Price Effects Of Tesla's Vertical Integration, Daniel A. Crane Jan 2017

Why Intra-Brand Dealer Competition Is Irrelevant To The Price Effects Of Tesla's Vertical Integration, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

"In recent years, Tesla Motors (recently renamed Tesla) has been engaged in a state-by-state ground way for the right to distribute it’s all-electric vehicles directly to consumers. The car dealers' lobby, with the political backing of General Motors, has fiercely battled back, relying on decades-old state dealer protection laws to argue that Tesla is legally bound to distribute through franchised dealers. Through a combination of favorable state legislative and judicial decisions, Tesla has won the right to distribute directly in many states, but remains categorically barred from direct distribution in important states like Michigan and Texas--and hence all direct distribution …


Financial Reform: Making The System Safer And Fairer, Michael S. Barr Jan 2017

Financial Reform: Making The System Safer And Fairer, Michael S. Barr

Articles

In the fall of 2008, the financial crisis crushed the U.S. economy and plunged the country into the Great Recession. The crisis shuttered American businesses, cost millions of Americans their jobs, and wiped out home values and household savings. The macro effects hit hardest and were the longest lasting for those least able to bear the brunt of the crisis. It was devastating to middle-income families and perhaps even more so to low- and moderate-income households, who had little financial buffer (Barr 2012a). Financial stability, never robust for these families, dropped precipitously (Barr and Schaffa 2016). Both in the United …


The Secession Of The Successful: The Rise Of Amazon As Private Global Consumer Protection Regulator, Jane K. Winn Jan 2016

The Secession Of The Successful: The Rise Of Amazon As Private Global Consumer Protection Regulator, Jane K. Winn

Articles

In 2005, the Americans for Fair Electronic Commerce Transactions (“AFFECT”) coalition issued a list of 12 principles it hoped would contribute to a new consensus about what constitutes fairness in online consumer transactions. A decade later, a cursory review of different jurisdictions indicates that, while there has been little discernable progress in the direction of the principles in the United States, other jurisdictions such as the European Union have made more progress.

However, the one jurisdiction in the world that comes closest to implementing all 12 principles across the full spectrum of consumer transactions is not a government at all, …


Debunking Humphrey's Executor, Daniel A. Crane Jan 2016

Debunking Humphrey's Executor, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

The Supreme Court’s 1935 Humphrey’s Executor decision paved the way for the modern administrative state by holding that Congress could constitutionally limit the President’s powers to remove heads of regulatory agencies. The Court articulated a quartet of features of the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) statutory design that ostensibly justified the Commission’s constitutional independence. It was to be nonpartisan and apolitical, uniquely expert, and performing quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial, rather than executive, functions. In recent years, the staying power of Humphrey’s Executor has been called into question as a matter of constitutional design. This Essay reconsiders Humphrey’s Executor from a different angle. …