Deborah L. Pierce, an emergency room doctor in Philadelphia, was optimistic when she brought a sex discrimination claim against the medical group that had dismissed her. Respected by colleagues, she said she had a stack of glowing evaluations and evidence that the practice had a pattern of denying women partnerships.
She began to worry, though, once she was blocked from court and forced into private arbitration.
Presiding over the case was not a judge but a corporate lawyer, Vasilios J. Kalogredis, who also handled arbitrations. When Ms. Pierce showed up one day for a hearing, she said she noticed Mr. Kalogredis having a friendly coffee with the head of the medical group she was suing.
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Insight by Atty. Jeff Powers:
Be very careful the next time you sign paperwork when entering the hospital, being seen by a doctor or when placing a loved one in a nursing home. Many of these legal documents people sign daily contain a clause which will deny your right to a trial by jury should something go terribly wrong. Corporations are using binding arbitration to deny justice to victims of gross negligence. This means that an arbitrator – one person, who is usually on the side of the corporation will decide if you are entitled to any compensation for your loss. The right to a trial by jury in this country is being taken away by big business.