Nationalist comedian Owen Benjamin and 72 of his fans have won a tentative decision under California’s arbitration law, which was amended by legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2019 to put the burden of fees in disputes on the party setting terms.
In the case against Patreon, the matter in need of arbitration is related to the company’s abrupt banning of Benjamin’s page for political reasons. Benjamin and his fans argue that the deplatforming amounts to tortious interference in their business contract. Thanks to Patreon, Benjamin cannot comply with his contractual obligation of providing content for money to his followers due to the tech platform failing in its role as financial middleman. Benjamin is asking for $3.5 million in damages.
What is unique about arbitration in California is that Patreon is on the hook for the legal and arbitration fees required for Benjamin and all 72 of the individual plaintiffs. This means they must pay at least $10,000 to each individual complainant, which in total could cost the corporation 10s of millions of dollars regardless of outcome.
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