Consumer and employee win rates in arbitration

by Ted Frank on December 16, 2007

For example, a study published in the Dispute Resolution Journal compared 125 employment discrimination lawsuits filed in the Southern District of New York, with 186 arbitration claims involving employment disputes in the securities industry. The data showed that employee claimants prevailed 46% of the time in arbitration compared to 34% in federal court. The median monetary award amount was slightly higher in arbitration, and the median time from filing to judgment was 16.5 months in arbitration compared to 25 months in litigation.

Also, a 1998 comparison of arbitration and litigation published in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review noted that employees prevailed over employers in 63% of employment arbitration cases filed with the American Arbitration Association between 1993 and 1995. To compare, only 14.9% of employees who brought cases to federal district court in 1994 prevailed in their litigation. The average duration of an arbitrated claim was 8.6 months, compared to 2.5 years in litigation.

Source, citing Michael Delikat & Morris M. Kleiner, An Empirical Study of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms: Where Do Plaintiffs Better Vindicate Their Rights?, 58 DISPUTE RESOLUTION JOURNAL 56, 57-58 (2004); and Lewis L. Maltby, Private Justice: Employment Arbitration and Civil Rights, 30 COLUM. HUM. RTS. L. REV. 29, 45-48 (1998).

California data shows that when consumers bring arbitration claims against businesses, the consumers prevail in 65.5% of cases that reach a decision. To compare, buyer plaintiffs litigating contract claims in the 75 largest American counties prevailed 61.5% of the time overall, and 60.9% of the time in cases decided by bench trials. When businesses bring arbitration claims against California consumers, the businesses prevail in 77.7% of cases that reach a decision. To compare, seller plaintiffs litigating contract cases in the largest 75 counties prevail 76.8% of the time overall and 78.9% of the time in cases decided by bench trial.

These results show that the win rates for consumers and businesses bringing claims in arbitration are within just a few percentage points – and, sometimes, just fractions of a percentage point – of the win rates of individuals and businesses bringing contract claims in court.

Source. See also the Ernst and Young study showing consumers doing better in arbitration than in court. More data available at the National Arbitration Forum page.

Update, Dec. 17: The National Arbitration blog has more links, and the blog appears to be chock-full of resources. For other Overlawyered posts on arbitration, see our new arbitration section.

{ 1 comment }

1 Bob Neal 12.16.07 at 11:28 pm

We all know the reason the trial lawyers hate arbitration….they can’t hold a portfolio of ridiculous jury verdicts over corporate defendants’ heads to extract settlements based not on a case’s true worth, but on fear.

And the media and the Dems are all in favor. American jurisprudence isn’t about justice – it’s about income distribution.

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