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March 5, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Representatives Conor Lamb (PA-17) and Denny Heck (WA-10) introduced H.R. 6101, the Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act.   On January 1, 2019, Amtrak revised its requirement that legal action against the company be resolved through a mandatory arbitration process.  Under this change customers waive their right to sue Amtrak in a U.S. court for any reason with the purchase of an Amtrak ticket.  H.R. 6101 would overturn Amtrak’s forced arbitration agreement changes and prohibit the company from requiring forced arbitration agreements from passengers.

“Requiring forced arbitration agreements limits consumer rights and protections,” said Lamb.  “Amtrak should not preclude their customers from exercising their full rights through a forced arbitration policy.”

“After Amtrak Train 501 derailed onto a busy interstate in my district, we in South Puget Sound saw first-hand the pain and suffering caused by a preventable crash,” said Heck.  “But we also saw motorists leave their cars and run toward the wreckage to pull out survivors and help treat the injured.  Amtrak should be running toward its responsibility to ensure safe rail travel, instead of hiding behind an arbitration clause.  Victims deserve their day in court, and this bill will ensure they get it.”

Amtrak’s 2019 forced arbitration agreement applies to all possible claims that could be brought, from ticket disputes to discrimination to catastrophic injury and wrongful death.  Additionally, the policy covers passengers whose tickets were bought for them—including minors—and prohibits customers from joining in any kind of class action suit.  Forced arbitration also discourages customers from filing complaints for smaller violations by instituting high fees and extended timelines.  Airlines are already prohibited from using mandatory arbitration.

A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). 

Click here to learn more about H.R. 6101.