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Amicus Briefs

  • Thibodeau v. Comcast - Amicus Brief (December 07, 2006)

    Donovan Searles co-wrote a friend of the court brief in this consumer case against Comcast relating to cable box charges. The brief argues, among other things, that the use of fine-print arbitration clauses that purport to ban class actions in consumer agreements is unfair and unconscionable. The economic reality is that cable consumers cannot challenge unfair fees charged by cable companies and others by any means other than a class action. The costs of such cases far outweigh the likely benefits to any one consumer, though the aggregate revenues to the companies imposing the charges are substantial. Donovan Searles filed the brief on behalf of the National Consumer Law Center, the National Association of Consumer Advocates and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. On December 1, 2006, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued a decision striking the class action ban from Comcast’s arbitration clause, finding it was unconscionable. A copy of the decision is referenced below.

  • Salley - Amicus Brief (February 27, 2006)

    Donovan Searles filed this amicus brief on behalf of AARP, NCLC, NACA and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. The brief argues that it is unfair for mortgage companies to require borrowers to arbitrate their claims against a lender while the lender can proceed in court and foreclose on the mortgaged property, in many cases before the borrower’s claim can be decided in arbitration. The case is on referral from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for a definitive decision on Pennsylvania state law. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard argument in September 2006 and is expected to render a decision in 2007.

Court Brief Used in News

  • Toy - Amicus Brief (September 20, 2005)

    Donovan Searles filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Consumer Law Center, the National Association of Consumer Advocates and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia in this consumer case challenging the insurance sales practices of a major life insurance company. The brief argues that the Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Law requires only a showing of a causal connection between the allegedly misleading sales representations and the loss suffered by a consumer. For bait and switch sales practices, a requirement that the consumer also show individual reliance makes no sense, because no consumer could ever show such reliance. In addition, where important information has been omitted, it is sufficient for a consumer to show the significance of that information because it is impossible to prove reliance on something that was never disclosed. The case is currently pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.