This week, the U.S. House of Representatives held hearings on a bill that would affect the rights of millions of Americans, but few of them know the implications the proposed legislation. The bill, which must have been named in Topsy-Turvy land, is called Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015, and it would be anything but fair to consumers.
The bill would prevent any class action where there are no tangible harms, such as civil rights violations and discrimination cases. And if you believe simply because you were harmed financially that your class action is safe, think again. All parties to a class would have to have suffered the identical “type and extent” of injury.
This means if your damages were a different amount than those of another individual, you would be precluded from filing a class action. If predatory lending practices caused your harm, unless all of the victims suffered identical amounts of monetary damages, the class could not be certified.
Bringing a class action is already sufficiently difficult. Corporate lobbyists claim the bill would prevent frivolous and baseless lawsuits, but the current system does that quite well. An example was provided by a law professor who testified in opposition to the bill, where she noted that in one case, the plaintiffs had to survive an appeal of the initial motion to dismiss all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This bill would effectively insulate many corporations and other institutions from what in many cases is the only option open for individuals to obtain redress for their injuries.
Source: The Huffington Post, “An Unprecedented GOP Effort to Allow Corporations to Run Wild,” Paul Bland, April 30, 2015