Al Smith

Corporate Paid Umpires?

Jan 16, 2014

The L.A. Times has an editorial today on a subject I've spoken about before – arbitration. It opens with a “what if” - what if the L.A.

Dodgers have “just won the pennant and are going to play the New York Yankees in the World Series. But the rules have changed: All games will be played in Yankee Stadium. And, there are new umpires, hired and paid for by the Yankees.” The opening concludes with the observation that 'with rules like that, the Dodgers wouldn't stand much of a chance.'

Holiday Cheer - Mandatory Arbitration Fixes?

Dec 18, 2013

It's that time of the year when when many of us are out buying gifts as part of our holiday celebrations.  The vast majority of those will be purchased with debit or credit cards.  Later this month and continuing next month the statements for those cards will be arriving – in mailboxes or in-boxes across the state.  And, if you have a dispute with the bank – such as additional fees being tacked on that you didn't know about that caused you to go over your limit and incur even more charges – you will likely find that buried in the fine print of your account agreement is a provision requiring

Holiday Safety

Nov 21, 2013

We're quickly approaching the holiday season, a festive time for gathering with family and friends.  It is a time for celebrating and for giving thanks.  Every year it seems that we are urged to get into the holiday spirit earlier and earlier,  at least the buying part.  So, here are some tips to keep your holiday season and gifts joyful, and safe. 

What's The Cause of Rising Health Care Costs?

Oct 23, 2013

Well, the rhetoric over the Affordable Care Act, Obama Care, is heating up. Amazing that a private health insurance plan that Republicans touted as a solution not so long ago, is now being attacked by those same Republicans as being “socialist,” while Democrats who supported a national single payer system, now defend a private insurance plan. We even have disagreement as to whether it is a good idea for every citizen to have insurance coverage.

Gun Safety - Get Your Remington 700 Repaired

Oct 1, 2013

For me, these crisp autumn mornings mean the big game hunting season is near.  Right now hunters are out sighting in their rifles.  The general rifle season for elk, deer, and antelope opens next month.  Hunting is a family tradition in Montana, a higher percentage of our population hunts than in any other state, and it is common to see hunting parties of two or three generations in the woods and on the prairies throughout Montana.  Unfortunately, a Montana family may lose a loved one to a hunting accident.  While any loss of life is tragic, we are doing better with safety training and safe

Regulating Corporate Behavior

Jul 31, 2013

Is Congress doing it's job? Most of us would agree that the answer is no – Congress's approval ratings are at an all time low for good reason. But that doesn't mean they aren't busy.

The House will be voting on 10 bills this week to highlight their headline grabber “Stop Government Abuse Week.” Now, if the name makes you think this might be a renewed effort to rein in the NSA's surveillance program, you'd be wrong. Maybe the name conjures up hope that Congress is looking at how to rein in the TSA before every air traveler is irradiated, no such luck.

US Supreme Court's Fireworks

Jul 3, 2013

With so many things happening in Montana and across the country affecting the civil justice system, I had a hard time picking a topic for tonight. The U.S. Supreme Court ended it's term in June with a bang. There was the Windsor case striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and the Perry case that the Court sidestepped but in effect allowed the nullification of California's Propisition.

US Supreme Court's Balls and Strikes Count

Jun 5, 2013

Last month I spoke about how mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts can never be fair, because the parties do not have equal bargaining power, equal experience in arbitration, equal ability to understand contract language, particularly the ramifications of the rights being waived, and an equal ability to insist on clauses being included or excluded in the contract. 

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