Washington, D.C., May 22, 2003 – The United States Chamber of Commerce cheered the House Judiciary Committee’s approval of a bill designed to help consumers and businesses by curbing abusive lawsuits filed by class action trial lawyers.
“Momentum for the Class Action Fairness Act continues to build,” said Stanton D. Anderson, Chamber executive vice president and chief legal officer. “This vote is evidence that Congress is moving ahead to restore fairness and sanity to a system that has – for entirely too long – enriched cunning trial lawyers at the expense of unsuspecting Americans.”
The House Judiciary Committee approved the Class Action Fairness Act (H.R. 1115) by a vote of 20 to 14. This same committee and the entire U.S. House of Representatives have passed similar measures in the previous two Congresses. The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed its version of the bill (S. 274) on April 11.
The legislation expands the jurisdiction of federal courts, allowing them to more easily hear large class action lawsuits in which plaintiffs and defendants are from different states. This will ensure that national class action lawsuits, involving plaintiffs from around the country, can be heard in federal courts, which are better equipped to apply the laws of multiple states.
A recent poll conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform found that 67 percent of those questioned thought the class action lawsuit system needed to be reformed. Forty percent of those questioned, or the equivalent of about 60 million people, said they had received a notice telling them they were members of a class action lawsuit. Of that number, only 30 percent said they took steps to share in any possible reward, and more than half didn’t think they received anything of any value.
“Consumers and businesses are fed up with being used and abused in class actions,” Anderson added. “Democrats and Republicans alike can take pride in knowing that their vote for class action fairness will truly ensure justice for all.”