WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that borrowers who sign loan contracts requiring arbitration of disputes may not file class actions later against lenders for violating consumer protection laws.

The case, Johnson v. West Suburban Bank; Tele-Cash Inc.; and County Bank of Rehoboth Beach, Del., arose last year when a borrower claimed that, though his contract barred him from suing as an individual, it did not prevent him from joining a class action filed under the Truth-in-Lending Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

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