Becoming a helicopter pilot had been Matt Kilgore's childhood dream.
Corporate greed killed his dream.
The California resident and father of two started attending the for-profit school, Silver State Helicopters, to earn his pilot's license. To afford classes, he took out loans from Keybank USA, a lender to many Silver State students.
Then, abruptly, the school shut its doors and filed for bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy judge described the school's operations as "an airborne Ponzi scheme."
Matt and his classmates were left with extensive debt, but no marketable skills and no diplomas, certificates or other accreditation.
Seeking relief from the school's alleged fraud, some of Matt's classmates took the school and a different lender to court.
Those students got their day in court.
Sounds like the civil justice system worked, right?
Except the story hasn't ended for Matthew Kilgore or any other students who went through Keybank.
That's because fine print in Keybank's terms included a forced arbitration clause and a ban on class actions.
A "forced arbitration clause" is language restricting customers' constitutional right to a civil jury trial; the class-action ban forces anyone seeking accountability from the corporation to do so alone in private, costly arbitration, even if a large number of people were swindled or harmed.
The only way Matt can seek any relief at all is by taking his case to the bank's hand-picked arbitration provider. Matt started fighting for redress in 2008, when the school shut down. He's still fighting.
Unlike his peers who received some assistance from their class-action settlement with a different lender, Matt's tab with Keybank has ballooned from $55,000 to $103,000 because of interest.
Had Matt been "lucky" enough to be ripped off by a company that didn't have a forced arbitration clause in its terms, circumstances by now would probably be better for him and his family.
We shouldn't have different justice systems that deliver different results because of fine print that corporations place in their take-it-or-leave-it terms.
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Public Citizen's Online Action Team