What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Individuals in the Workplace : S. 5. Class-Action Lawsuits/Vote on Conyers Substitute Amendment to Bill to Move Many Interstate, Class-Action Lawsuits from State to Federal Courts, Which are Less Friendly to Consumers. (2005 house Roll Call 36)
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S. 5. Class-Action Lawsuits/Vote on Conyers Substitute Amendment to Bill to Move Many Interstate, Class-Action Lawsuits from State to Federal Courts, Which are Less Friendly to Consumers.
house Roll Call 36     Feb 17, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the House defeated a substitute amendment (language intended wholly to replace the language of the underlying bill) offered by John Conyers (D-MI) to S. 5, a bill to move many interstate, class-action lawsuits (multiple claims from various lawsuits with parties in more than one state combined into one, larger lawsuit) from state to federal courts and to make other changes regarding this type of lawsuit. Procedure in federal courts is generally considered less friendly to consumers than in state courts. Conyers's amendment would have "carved out" certain types of cases from the actions proposed in S. 5, including civil rights cases, workers' rights cases, suits brought on behalf of citizens by states' attorneys general and non-class-action suits involving physical injuries (which the language of S. 5 included). The bill, strongly favored by corporations that assert that a glut of lawsuits is threatening their survival, would grant federal jurisdiction over these suits where the total disputed amount is larger than $5 million. In supporting the amendment, Progressives were joined by civil rights, consumer and other public interest groups who feared that workers, consumers and citizens in general might be prevented from obtaining justice, as the federal courts are already overburdened with case backlogs and because those courts might be less inclined to approve large monetary awards even where they are truly deserved. Opponents of the Conyers amendment claimed that S. 5 as written would prevent what they consider to be abuses such as "forum shopping;" i.e., when lawyers file suits in the jurisdictions where plaintiffs tend to win large awards. The House defeated Conyers's substitute amendment by a vote of 178 to 247, thus ensuring that the language making it more difficult for workers, consumers and many citizens to seek justice in the federal courts remained in the bill.

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