(Politico) SAM MINTZ 11/08/2019 05:35 PM Passengers and their survivors won a $265 million court settlement with Amtrak after a 2015 derailment in Philadelphia killed eight people and injured hundreds more. But if such a crash happened today the victims would not be able to sue. Thats because of a clause the passenger rail line quietly added to its ticket purchases in January which forces disputes into arbitration with no right to go before a judge or jury. The change is bringing objections from consumer advocates who note that it covers scenarios ranging from ordinary ticketing complaints up to wrongful death and even includes minors who had the tickets purchased for them. And it could soon get Congress attention. The language has flown under the radar so far but may burst into view when the House Transportation Committee holds a hearing on Amtrak next week. It is one of the most anti-consumer and passenger clauses Ive ever seen" said Julia Duncan senior director for government affairs at the American Association for Justice which represents trial lawyers. Duncan said Amtraks arbitration clause is unusually broad and detailed noting that the policy describes a wide array of possible incidents that would have to go to arbitration. Most forced arbitration clauses do not go into much detail about what they cover she said. Airlines are prohibited by law from using mandatory arbitration but Duncan said its prevalent across other transportation sectors including bus travel rideshare and cruise lines.
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