Fairness in Class Action Litigation? It’s Anything But

March 6, 2017  |  Class Actions

It’s called the Fairness in Class Action Litigation of 2017 (H.R. 985) bill, but the truth is that this piece of legislation would protect greedy companies rather than consumers. In essence, it would eliminate the ability of consumers to seek justice through class action lawsuits. This bill seems harmless, when in reality it’s anything but.

Follow the Trail

The biggest tip-off that the bill would be anti-consumer is that it is backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business lobbying group that is the largest in the nation.

The bill’s wording makes it seem rather benign. However, that’s nothing but tricky language. In a nutshell, it would prevent people from filing class action suits unless all of them suffered the “same type and scope of injury” in order for the suit to be certified.

The problem with this wording is that it may be unfairly and unreasonably interpreted by those who oppose class actions to mean that a case cannot be certified as a class action unless all consumers suffered the same loss. As an example, if you are charged an unlawful fee of, let’s say, $20 by your bank and another customer of that bank is only charged $10 for the same unlawful fee, then the injuries are different and opponents would say this bill means the case can’t be certified as a class action. Bottom line, we need to fight against that unreasonable and unfair position.

The bill would also slow down the process of paying plaintiffs even more, because the court would have to audit all payments. In addition, it would prohibit a plaintiff from hiring the same class action lawyer twice. You can hire the same plumber or see the same dentist twice, why not a class action lawyer? This is a clear attempt at reducing class actions because there are only a few experienced lawyers who take these kinds of cases in the first place.

Opponents to H.R. 985 include nearly 40 disability advocate groups, 70 organizations devoted to consumer justice and more than 100 civil rights groups.

If you want to join in the fight against this dangerous piece of legislation, contact your Congressional representative as soon as you can.

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