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Complaint alleges pro-business Nat’l Arbitration Forum bias

Some lawmakers, in debating bills that would ban mandatory pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in credit card agreements and other contracts, have accused the National Arbitration Forum of being biased in favor of businesses and against consumers.

Because companies steer lots of business to the companies through the binding clauses, some lawmakers argue, the NAF returns the favor with decisions in the companies’ favor.

“They tend to be predisposed to serve the ones that pay them,” said Rep. Henry Johnson, D-Ga., sponsor of the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2009, at a hearing earlier this month. “That’s only human nature.”

Now, a new lawsuit is buffering that claim. Deanna Richert, a former NAF arbitrator, alleges in the age and gender bias suit that the forum does indeed favor business clients, referring to the companies internally as “famous parties.”

Richert claims that the NAF stopped giving cases to arbitrators who ruled against companies, threw lavish parties for arbitrators during which the arbitrators would be lobbied to rule in favor of businesses, and called and asked arbitrators to change rulings adverse to businesses before they were released. The Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog has the complaint and the NAF’s answer.

The forum responded to Law Blog denying all claims. “The National Arbitration Forum categorically denies all of the claims made by Deanna Richert in her lawsuit, which is a classic case of a disgruntled terminated employee attempting to capitalize on recent negative PR and force a large settlement,” the statement reads.

In the complaint Richert seeks, among other things, a declaratory ruling of her right to sue, since her employment contract with NAF contained – you guessed it – a mandatory pre-dispute binding arbitration clause.


  1. Leon Watts III

    I am one of the people that Ms. Richert may be speaking about. I had a case against 1st. USA Bank, now Bank One from 1999 to 2003.
    I was concerned that Bank One was a major client of the NAF, but I had so much evidence to back up my claim that I thought there was no way I could loose. The Arbitrator dismissed my case “without prejudice” and would not give me an explanation of the ruling. (because I had not paid the $1,000 fee for an explanation…before the case was heard.)
    Ms. Richert was my case manager. I would definitely turn over my case evidence for review. I always felt the rules were bias, because at the 11th hour, much of my evidence was not permitted by the Arbitrator.

  2. Mr Leon Watts III, how or what type of evidence did you have to show Bank One was a big client od NAF???

  3. Approximately 5 of the 8 testimonies on the “NAF website”, from “satisfied clients” were from the bank is was suing, and about to go into arbitration with! I investigated those testimonies and I questioned the NAF’s ability to be impartial.
    Now, here we are in Aug. 2009, and the NAF has agreed to stop handling cases involving banks and consumers. Why do you think they did that?

  4. I wanted to let everyone know. I contacted the U.S. Attorney Gen.in 2005 about the evidence against the NAF and they’re bank clients.The USAG turned the evidence over to the Minn. AG, who contacted me in 2008, for my help in the case against the NAF. I turned over my documents and research to the Minn.AG . I was leery at first. It was hard beleave I was actually making the difference. The Minn. State Attorney Ge. took the NAF to court.
    The NAF decided to \fold up, and settle away.\ No More business against consumers.
    I did not get one penny for my time and cost to fight the case involving the NAF and Bank ONE.

    There were a number of people who helped me with information and encouragement.
    It would have been nice to meet an attorney to come to my aide, but the banks keep many young attorney’s and large law firms, on retainer so they can’t be hired by consumers like me.
    I acted as \pro per\…which means, I acted as my own attorney against Bank ONE through the NAF.
    At least I can feel proud that I helped consumers in 2009 obtain a little more support against a corrupt organization. Thank you to all to folks that supported me in the fight.

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