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Highly Publicized Arbitration Dispute Demonstrates Juries Should Be Trusted

August 2, 2011

The highly publicized case of Jamie Leigh Jones, the woman who alleged she was assaulted while working for defense contractor KBR, demonstrates that juries should be trusted. Ms. Jones claimed that during her employment for KBR in Iraq, she was drugged and raped by a company employee. When she asserted her claim, the company cited an arbitration provision in Ms. Jones’s employment contract and demanded that the claim is arbitrated, in part because companies tend to see arbitration as more favorable to business interests. When special legislation exempted defense contractor employees from arbitration requirements and the case was tried before a jury, the jury weighed the evidence and gave the company the favorable outcome it wanted: they found that the evidence did not support Ms. Jones’s claims.

As stated in a recent opinion piece, businesses’ fear of the U.S. jury system is irrational. Businesses sue each other all the time and trust juries to weigh the facts and apply those facts to the law provided by the court during jury instructions. The founders of this country through the right to trial by jury was so sacred that they included it as the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution as a fundamental protection of individual rights: ‘In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, then according to the rules of common law.’

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