The Constitution of the United States provides that every citizen has the right to a jury trial. However, many states allow people to waive, or give up, that right by signing a contract. Many companies take advantage of this rule by including a section of their contracts that acts as a waiver of a right to jury trial. By asking consumers to waive their right to a jury trial, companies can ensure that any problems or conflicts that arise between the buyer and the seller can be settled outside of court. Oftentimes, these problems are solved through arbitration, or negotiation outside of a court setting. This type of waiver is common in many types of contracts, including residential leases, mortgage agreements, and auto loans. The problem with these waivers is that consumers often have limited means of maintaining their right to a jury trial. Many companies consider their contracts to be non-negotiable. This means that consumers cannot alter the terms to reflect their desire for a jury trial and are forced to give up a Constitutional right in order to purchase a car or open a bank account.
Sample – Cell Phone User Agreement:
You and Phone Company both agree to resolve disputes only by arbitration or in small claims court. There’s no judge or jury in arbitration, and the procedures may be different, but an arbitrator can award the same damages and relief, and must honor the same terms in this agreement, as a court would. Also, if for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than through arbitration, you and Phone Company agree that there will not be a jury trial.