Minor League Baseball Team Sues City
Sunday, February, 21, 2016
The High Desert Mavericks have brought a lawsuit against the city of Adelanto regarding a dispute over the use of the city-owned stadium. The dispute could result in the evictions of the minor league team from the stadium, and possibly from the city. The two groups recently met in mediation in an attempt to resolve the matter before going to court, but the two reached no resolution after the first meeting.
The mediation came after Main Street California, LLC, the owners of the Mavericks, filed a civil lawsuit at the end of January to compel the city to enter into arbitration. The owners of the team were hoping an arbitrator would enforce the lease signed in August 2012 and stop the city from the eviction. The City Council voted to terminate that stadium agreement in mid-January, stating the three and a half year deal violated the state’s constitution. They also claimed that use of the stadium served to public purpose and might as well have been a gift of public funds to the team.
Later in January, Adelanto released a report showing the city had subsidized $1.8 million for the team since 2012. The team pays annual leas of $1 for use of the stadium, but in return handles the maintenance and upkeep of the stadium facility. The city filed a civil complaint in response against the Mavericks’ ownership which was not addressed during the recent mediation session.
The Mavericks’ are scheduled to begin their season in early April and there is no decision yet on what will happen if the dispute is not resolved by that point.
Democratic Senators Propose Law to Deal with Mandatory Arbitration Clauses
A new bill was recently introduced that, if passed, would limit a company’s ability to force consumers to settle grievances outside of court through arbitration. This practice has become increasingly popular for companies and they include arbitration clauses in their consumer contracts in an effort to prevent consumers from suing them and taking them to court.
The bill was introduced by senators Patrick Leahy from Vermont and Al Franken from Minnesota and would make it illegal for companies to impose forced arbitration in consumer protection cases. Forced arbitration would also no longer be permitted in employment discrimination and other civil rights cases.
According to a senior member of the Consumers Union, the bill would restore the Federal Arbitration Act to the form Congress intended and allow that arbitration only be used to decide business disputes, instead of protecting companies against accusations of misconduct. Consumers would again be able to take companies to court, even if that company included an arbitration clause in its contract.
Arbitration clauses are often hidden in contracts related to loans, leases, checking accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, student loans, nursing home agreements, and consumer stores. Instead of court, these clauses force consumers to settle issues using the services of a private arbitrator, usually chosen by the company. The outcome remains confidential and there is very little room for appeal. Many victims of these clauses have lost out on their opportunity to file a lawsuit when mistreated or cheated out of money and the senator are hoping to change that risk for consumers.