Congress is considering a bill that would have far-reaching effects for the entire American justice system and potentially influence the lives of countless people – though it hasn’t garnered the same attention as health care legislation or other controversial issues.
The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act recently passed the House. If it is made law, it will compromise ordinary Americans’ ability to use class action litigation to pursue justice against businesses.
According to the New York Times, at the heart of the bill is a requirement that every member of the plaintiff class suffered the “same type and scope of injury.” This requirement makes it very difficult to form a class of plaintiffs and meet the high burden of proof that every individual suffered the exact same harm.
Why do we need class actions?
Injury lawsuits and the attorneys who bring them are often met with disdain. However, the civil courts system is one of the only ways for an individual to seek justice for wrongs committed by another person or entity. From workplace safety conditions to product recalls to cell phone contracts, the public’s ability to seek redress through the courts shapes virtually every part of our lives.
Often, individual members of a class cannot take on a negligent corporation by themselves. With most corporations employing top-tier attorneys and operating under contracts they wrote themselves, consumers are at a disadvantage even without the benefits of class action status.
Even so, many people remain convinced that laws enacted to protect them are somehow detrimental to society. This campaign against class actions is not actually led by consumers, but by large businesses that have significant financial interests in making class actions impractical for most people.
We hope that the government will do the right thing and preserve Americans’ rights in the court system. If you have any questions about your legal rights, we encourage you to contact an attorney.