The National Arbitration Forum
and the Attorney General of Minnesota
have reached an agreement under which NAF will cease accepting new arbitration cases involving consumers, including collection actions by credit card companies. The consent decree
(dated July 17, 2009) does not apply to ICANN domain name disputes nor to certain other types of arbitration matters currently administered by NAF.
See also the AG’s press release, her earlier complaint against NAF, and NAF’s statement on the settlement.
The Attorney General has also asked the American Arbitration Association to exit the consumer arbitration field. (Another company, JAMS, also offers consumer arbitration services, but apparently has not been approached by the AG.)
Update, 7/22/09: The American Arbitration Association says it will stop handling consumer debt collection cases “until some standards or safeguards are established.” Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2009, page A1 (full text of story here). See also Deepak Gupta’s take in CL&P Blog.
Since you can’t reserve a seat ahead of time, getting an “A” boarding pass turns out to be critical. If you wait until you arrive at the airport to check in, you’ll almost certainly be stuck with a “B” or even a “C”, and even if you wait more than an hour at the front of the line for your particular boarding group, you still risk getting stuck with an aisle seat. In some instances, you apparently have to check in within the first few minutes (i.e., exactly 24 hours before your flight time) in order to get an “A” boarding pass.
BoardFirst and similar services have seemingly found a way around this ridiculous situation. (Yes, I realize that some people actually like Southwest’s dysfunctional approach; I think it’s just because they’ve figured out how to beat it, kind of like how ticket brokers who have figured out how to get good concert tickets from Ticketmaster don’t think that system is broken.) If you’re willing to trust BoardFirst with your Southwest flight information, BoardFirst will log on to Southwest’s website when check-in opens and put you near the front of the line for an “A” boarding pass. BoardFirst charges $5 for this service.
Southwest sued BoardFirst last year based upon a variety of legal theories, including a claim that BoardFirst enters into a browsewrap contract with Southwest each time it accesses Southwest’s website on a customer’s behalf, and that contract prohibits third parties such as BoardFirst from checking customers in or obtaining boarding passes for them. This month the court ruled in Southwest’s favor on that claim, although from a quick look at BoardFirst’s website, it appears that BoardFirst may still be accepting “orders” from Southwest customers.
Southwest Airlines Co. v. BoardFirst, L.L.C., No. 3:06-cv-00891 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 12, 2007).
The Rev. Jerry Falwell died today. I met him once, in 1986 or so, when he came to my law school to give a talk. While I disagreed (and still do) with most of what he stood for politically, I enjoyed talking with him then and have always had a great deal of respect for him.
A few years ago I served on a dispute resolution panel that awarded the domain name fallwell.com to Dr. Falwell. I dissented from that decision, and later felt vindicated by the Fourth Circuit’s subsequent ruling [PDF].
I’m following the E360-Spamhaus dispute with great interest, and have been discussing it in my Cyberspace Law seminar at The John Marshall Law School. The case presents some fascinating issues in the areas of spam law, Internet governance, civil procedure, and international law — and it happens to have a handful of connections with John Marshall.
In the district court, the case was heard by Judge Charles P. Kocoras, who has served on the federal bench for over 25 years and has taught at John Marshall as an adjunct professor for even longer than that. Matthew Neumeier of Jenner & Block, an adjunct professor in John Marshall’s Information Technology and Privacy Law program, is representing Spamhaus in its appeal to the Seventh Circuit. Matthew Prince‘s comments about the case have been widely quoted in the media; he is CEO of Unspam Technologies and also is an adjunct professor in John Marshall’s IT law program. And a similar fact scenario (i.e., spam-related accusations as the basis for suspension of a domain name) was used as the problem for John Marshall’s annual moot court competition way back in 1996. The best briefs and the bench memorandum prepared for that competition were subsequently published in John Marshall’s Journal of Computer & Information Law.
A class action suit filed in California last week alleges fraud and unconscionability in eBay’s bidding system. The suit focuses on the manner in which eBay handles proxy bids, and characterizes eBay’s actions as tantamount to “shill bidding.” The plaintiffs’ firm has issued a press release; Reuters [alternate link] and InternetNews.com have more.
The plaintiffs may have a point, but the impact of eBay’s practices isn’t particularly significant (less than one bid increment) except on an aggregate level. I’m guessing this one will settle for substantial attorney’s fees for the named plaintiff’s firm, a thousand dollars or so for the lead plaintiff, worthless coupons for all of the other class members, and a promise by eBay to do a better job of explaining how proxy bids work.
EBay’s bidding system is inherently broken — a timed auction makes sense only where bids are sealed until the auction closes (hence the existence of eSnipe and similar services that exploit this designflaw) — but that problem has little to do with this case.
UPDATES: Commentary on the case from Eric Goldman and Slashdot. And a printable copy of the complaint.