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News
March 12, 2002

Chamber Praises House For Class Action Reform; Focus is Now on the Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce praised the U.S. House of Representatives today for passing the Class Action Fairness Act, by a vote of 233 to 190, and urged the Senate to follow suit.

“For too long, America’s legal system has made trial lawyers richer at the expense of innocent consumers, shareholders and businesses,” said James M. Wootton, president of the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber. “Today lawmakers have sent a strong signal that the days of class action abuse are numbered.”

A central provision of the bill makes it easier to move large, multi-state class action lawsuits from state to federal court, preventing widespread “venue shopping” by trial lawyers. Key reforms that protect consumers include: requiring class action settlement notices to be written in “Plain English”; prohibiting settlements in which class members actually lose money to pay attorneys’ fees; ensuring the fair and even distribution of damage awards to all plaintiffs; and protecting class members from getting coupons of little or no value while attorneys make millions of dollars.

The Chamber sponsored several ads urging lawmakers to take action against class action abuses and has identified votes surrounding the Class Action Fairness Act (H.R. 2341 and S. 1712) as possible key votes in its annual “How They Voted” rankings. The Bush Administration also supports the objectives of this bi-partisan bill, Wootton noted.

“With today’s vote, the House has endorsed a simple but essential principle national class actions belong in federal courts, where the rules are the same for everyone,” Wootton added. “The U.S. Chamber urges the Senate to seize this opportunity for common sense legal reform by passing the Class Action Fairness Act by the Memorial Day recess.”

The mission of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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