March 15, 2017

As reported in The New York Times, the Bill introduced in the House of Representatives on February 9, 2017 could have an effect of ending the Class action as an American Institution. Said bill was titled as the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017.

The bill was introduced to amend the procedures used in Federal court class actions and multi-district litigation proceedings to assure fairer, more efficient outcomes for claimants and defendants, and for other purposes.

The main purpose of the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 is to (a) assure fair and prompt recoveries for class members and multi-district litigation plaintiffs with legitimate claims; (b) diminish abuses in class action and mass tort litigation that are undermining the integrity of the U.S. legal system; and (c) restore the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution by ensuring Federal court consideration of interstate controversies of national importance consistent with diversity jurisdiction principles.

However, CHRIS SAGERS and JOSHUA P. DAVIS in their article titled “Proposed Law Could Be a New Attack on Civil Rights”, pointed out that, “If Congress kills the class action, many laws protecting ordinary people will become unenforceable. Nobody would pay a lawyer to bring most individual cases under our anti-fraud, product safety, antitrust, civil rights or employment laws, for example. The individual harm is usually small, though the policy is crucial and the overall social injury may be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

It was further observed by CHRIS SAGERS and JOSHUA P. DAVIS that, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act throws in a grab bag of other new provisions, most of them with little effect but to complicate or otherwise frustrate litigation. The consequence will be to make cases unattractive to the plaintiffs’ lawyers who shoulder the huge financial risks, and for the nonprofit organizations that bring many civil rights claims, leaving many Americans with no feasible way to enforce their rights at all.

According to them, if the Bill leading to the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 becomes law, that would end class-action lawsuits would be a disservice to the working class.


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