Rep. Payne, Jr. Introduces Bill to Allow Customers to Sue Amtrak to Resolve Disputes

October 27, 2021
Press Release

Media Contact:  Patrick Wright   --  Patrick.Wright@mail.house.gov

Washington, D.C. — Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., Chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced a bill today to give customers the right to sue Amtrak to resolve disputes.  The bill, Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act, would eliminate the current arbitration clause for dispute resolution that passengers are forced to accept when they purchase an Amtrak ticket. Customer disputes range from a complaint over a ticket price to a wrongful death from an accident.  Rep. Payne, Jr. introduced the bill with Reps. Conor Lamb (PA-17) and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10). 

“This bill would ensure customers can pursue legal remedies in court and give them more options to resolve problems they experience with Amtrak travel,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.  “In addition, it would hold Amtrak more accountable for actions and issues that occur during rail travel.  American passengers and their families deserve all the protections Congress can provide them.  As Chairman of the Rail Subcommittee, I will continue to work to increase their rights and protect the safety of all rail passengers.”

“Requiring forced arbitration agreements unfairly limits consumer rights and protections,” said Representative Conor Lamb.  “Congress needs to take action to restore the legal rights of Amtrak passengers and their families.”

“Rail travel can reduce emissions, connect underserved communities, and bolster our economy, but these benefits should not come at the cost of passenger rights,” said Rep. Marilyn Strickland. Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.  “When tragedy strikes, passengers deserve their day in court. I’m proud to join Representative Lamb, Representative Payne, Jr. and Senator Blumenthal in introducing legislation to restore the legal rights and protections of Amtrak riders and their families.”

The bill is necessary to restore the rights of customers after Amtrak required them to resolve disputes through a mandatory arbitration clause connected to their ticket purchase in 2019.  When customers bought a ticket, most of them did not know that ticket eliminated their right to sue Amtrak in a U.S. court.  Additionally, the clause covered second-party tickets, such as one bought for a minor by a parent, and prohibited customers from joining class action suits.  Other transportation companies, such as major airlines, are prohibited from using mandatory arbitration clauses in their dispute resolution.

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