WASHINGTON, D.C., March 5, 2003 – The United States Chamber of Commerce today released the findings of a new poll showing that most Americans believe the class action lawsuit system is broken. Sixty-seven percent of the 813 likely voters surveyed said the class action system should be reformed.
“The current class action system has been corrupted and, ironically, hurts the very consumers it was designed to protect,” said Stanton D. Anderson, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief legal officer. “This new data is further evidence why Congress urgently needs to pass the Class Action Fairness Act without delay.” That bill was introduced last month in the U.S. Senate and is expected to be introduced soon in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sixty-one percent of respondents say consumers and class members benefit the least from the class action lawsuit system; 47 percent say plaintiffs’ lawyers – those bringing the lawsuits – benefit the most. The survey also found that 74 percent of Americans believe the current class action system drives up prices and should be restrained. Seventy seven percent of those polled agree that class action lawsuits should be tried in federal courts instead of state courts because federal courts would apply a more uniform standard for every lawsuit.
“The poll shows Americans are well aware of how class action lawsuits are used and abused in this country,” said Mark Penn, President of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, which conducted the research for the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform. “If you extrapolate the poll numbers, roughly 60 million voters in this country have been asked to participate in a class action lawsuit, and for those who did, the majority didn’t feel the system worked for them.”
In addition, 40 percent said they had received a notice advising them that they are or could become a member of a class action lawsuit or share in a class action settlement. Of that number, 43 percent said the notice was unclear. Thirty percent took the steps necessary to share in any possible reward, but 53 percent did not receive anything of value to them. The survey, conducted between February 8 and 15, has a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error.