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News
March 6, 2002

Chamber Praises Passage Of Class Action Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 7, 2002 – The United States Chamber of Commerce praised the House Judiciary Committee for favorably reporting out the Class Action Fairness Act, by a vote of 16 to 10, and urged the full House to act swiftly.

“Those who voted for class action fairness have the vision necessary to bring about real change in a legal system greatly needing repair,” said James M. Wootton, president of the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber. “This action is welcome news for consumers, shareholders and businesses of all sizes.”

H.R. 2341 – a bi-partisan bill introduced by Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Rick Boucher (D-VA), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) – could be considered by the full House within the next few weeks.

A key provision of the bill moves large, multi-state class action lawsuits from state to federal court, preventing the 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 U.S. Department of Justice recently endorsed H.R. 2341 and its Senate companion, S. 1712, the Chamber noted. In a March 1, 2002, letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner, Assistant Attorney General Daniel J. Bryant called the legislation “an important step in reforming class action litigation.”

“Advocates of class action reform have two new victories – gaining the administration’s support and today’s House Judiciary Committee vote,” Wootton said. “Momentum is building, bringing needed reform within reach.”

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