Wells tells him to go fly a kite, "apologizing" but refusing to cover his legal bills. And now Wells is trying to hide the case behind the stone wall of forced arbitration, where the judge of the case (the private arbitrator) is literally on Wells Fargo's payroll.
Starting in the 1970s, a series of radical decisions by the US Supreme Court tossed out the 70 years of precedent barring forced arbitration in employment and consumer cases. Since then, we've seen the entire civil justice system in America has essentially been gutted by these forced arbitration clauses in consumer and employment cases. Corporations use these clauses to cover up when they lie, cheat and steal, and arbitration protects outrageous criminal conduct by corporations by keeping others harmed in the same ways of having any ability to even know that others are fighting the same fight.
Forced arbitration is the end of any concept of Equal Justice Under Law in America, and its use is a huge part of the reason that while most Americans are struggling to keep up, the richest of the rich are becoming even richer without bounds.
Wells Fargo pushes wrongly accused N.J. pastor toward arbitration
A New Jersey pastor who was falsely arrested because of errors made by Wells Fargo employees may be forced to resolve legal claims against the bank in arbitration, renewing questions about banks' use of the process.
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Edwards deposited four checks in an ATM one afternoon in April 2018. Later, a photo of Edwards depositing his checks was falsely linked to a series of fraudulent checks deposited in the same machine on the same day. The photo of Edwards was posted on a New Jersey State Police Facebook page, prompting one of his parishioners to point him to the page, telling him he had a twin. The actual owner of the account into which the fraudulent checks were deposited was a 20-year-old woman.
The bank later admitted it was at fault and offered an apology. Edwards asked the bank to explain what happened and pay his legal fees; the bank refused.
For his part, Edwards is angry the bank is now trying to take the case to arbitration.
“It's a frustrating sense of not being able to get justice and having it all postponed,” Edwards said in an interview. “They threatened my reputation and put me through a great deal of angst and anxiety about the threat and the uncertainty of where this all was headed. So I would like some compensation for that. I would like an explanation for how they could have allowed this to happen. And then there’s the fact that they made a mistake initially and they seemed to just double down when they were asked about the mistake. There should have been ample reason to call into question their initial discernment that I was the person who cashed the fraudulent checks.”
Edwards also said he worries that this could happen to someone who doesn't have the means to hire a lawyer or who has a criminal record.
“In my experience dealing with the state police, I was pressured to confess to something I did not do,” Edwards said. “I can easily imagine how someone would cave in to that, if they did not have my advantages.”