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Chamber Urges Class Action Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 6, 2002 — The United Sates Chamber of Commerce today urged the House Judiciary Committee to pass the Class Action Fairness Act (H.R. 2341) to end abuses of our legal…

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 6, 2002 — The United Sates Chamber of Commerce today urged the House Judiciary Committee to pass the Class Action Fairness Act (H.R. 2341) to end abuses of our legal system.

“Abusive and frivolous lawsuits are stunting economic growth and job creation,” said James M. Wootton, president of the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber. “The Class Action Fairness Act will restore balance and fairness to our civil justice system while enhancing and protecting the rights of consumers and businesses alike.”

The full House Judiciary Committee held hearings today on 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).

A key provision of H.R. 2341 moves large, multi-state class action lawsuits from state to federal court, preventing the widespread abuse of “venue shopping” by trial lawyers. “Our Founding Fathers designed federal courts to handle large cases that crossed state boundaries and this bill would put these suits back in federal court where they belong,” Wootton added.

Additional key reforms of H.R. 2341 include:

* Requiring class action settlement notices to be written in “Plain English”;

* Prohibiting settlements in which consumers 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.