New Law Protects Students’ Rights to Sue in Abuse Cases

Minor students may disaffirm arbitration provisions in school enrollment agreements that waive their legal rights to remedy “arising out of a criminal sexual assault or criminal sexual battery” under legislation recently signed by the governor.

AB 272 was a bipartisan bill authored by Republican Assemblyman and candidate for governor Kevin Kiley. Its co-authors include Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, who has frequently clashed with Kiley both on the Assembly Floor and on Twitter.

The Children’s Advocacy Institute, the Consumer Attorneys of California, and the Capitol Resource Institute supported the bill. It was opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce, which has called it legally unenforceable.

“As the Supreme Court made clear in Concepcion, states cannot utilize state contract law to attempt to create defenses to a contract that apply only to arbitration,” Cal Chamber wrote

“…AB 272’s specific mechanism underlies this discrimination against arbitration. It would allow individuals to disaffirm any arbitration provision – but no other types of provisions – which their parents signed on their behalf in an enrollment agreement. In other words: no generally applicable changes are being made to state contract law related to parents’ ability to contract for their children – an arbitration-specific contract defense is being created. That is exactly what the Supreme Court made clear was unacceptable in Concepcion.”