April 21, 2014

General Mills Reverses Course — Comments from Imre Szalai

By Sarah Cole

I learned this morning that General Mills retracted its arbitration policy in the face of considerable criticism. See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/business/general-mills-reverses-itself-on-consumers-right-to-sue.html?_r=0.

Imre Szalai comments on the reversal:
“You have probably seen the news that general mills reversed itself this weekend after the public outcry over GM’s recently-implemented arbitration policy. I’m glad this 180 degree reversal occurred. I believe GM’s arbitration policy was one of the most aggressive, expansive, overreaching examples of an arbitration policy I have seen. Although section 1 of the agreement seemed to link the agreement to the use of GM’s website (which I believe is the correct way to interpret the agreement), the agreement also contains very broad phrases that a docket-clearing judge could have taken out of context in order to enforce the agreement through the mere purchase of a product from a grocery store, without the customer going online or even being aware of the agreement. Then, by ordering arbitration and staying the court proceeding, a judge can in effect preclude an immediate appeal on the order compelling arbitration in some jurisdictions. In my mind, GM’s policy was an attempt to suppress claims, not resolve claims.”

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