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How Granite renters could be signing away a constitutional right

We're looking into a change in Granite Student Living's lease agreement. One lawyer we showed it to said the new contract is trying to take away renters' constitutional right to a jury trial.

Posted: Dec 5, 2018 6:49 PM
Updated: Dec 5, 2018 7:01 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)-- Renters are concerned about a possible change in Granite Student Living's Lease Agreements.

The contract sent to News 18 said Granite wants to have an expedient resolution. So, the lease agreement asks the tenant to waive any and all rights to have a jury participate in resolving any suit, action, dispute, or proceeding arising out of or relating to the lease or premises.

This comes after a Purdue student took his case against Granite to a jury and won in August of 2018.

"This must be new, this is not in my current lease," said Granite renter Mark McCord. "I've rented here for six years and this is definitely an addendum that has been added."

We asked Granite for a response multiple times but have yet to hear back. The company's lawyers had more than a week to respond. We got the new lease agreement from someone who tried renting from the company in October. That's after we aired a story about Umar, a Purdue student who took his Granite case to a jury and won in August. 

"Umar is an absolute baller for doing that," said McCord. 

The person who shared the new contract with us did not want to be named in fear of retribution from Granite.

As a marine who fought for our rights, McCord said he appreciates his right to a jury if he so chooses. However, if he were to sign this version, he might not be able to.

"How would you get around this?" asked McCord.

"It's not easy," said attorney Duran Keller. 

Keller is the attorney who helped Umar take his case to the people. He said you could possibly fight this jury trial portion of the contract in court but generally in Indiana, you're allowed to contract away a lot of things.

"Unless it's against public policy or there's a specific statute that says otherwise," said Keller. "So, this will be something that will be up for the courts to decide."

If this jury trial line is in your contract, Keller doesn't recommend signing it.

"Granite is trying to take away peoples' constitutional right to be heard by the people," said Keller. 

McCord said he won't be signing it. 

"Absolutely not, no ma'am," said McCord. "That right there is their attempt to say, excuse me, screw you."

The contract doesn't take away your right to take Granite to court. It only takes away your right to a jury. If you were to sue Granite, you would have to take the matter to a judge. 

McCord said he would prefer real people to hear his cases. 

Keller said if that is you, either try to get this portion taken out of the contract or rent with another company without this requirement.

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