What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Equal Access to Justice : S. 5. Class-Action Lawsuits/Vote to Defeat an Amendment to Give Federal Judges Discretion Regarding Which State's Law to Apply in a Federal Suit Where Consumers Bringing Suit are from Different States. (2005 senate Roll Call 7)
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S. 5. Class-Action Lawsuits/Vote to Defeat an Amendment to Give Federal Judges Discretion Regarding Which State's Law to Apply in a Federal Suit Where Consumers Bringing Suit are from Different States.
senate Roll Call 7     Feb 09, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the Senate defeated an amendment offered by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to S. 5, a bill to move many multistate, class-action consumer lawsuits (multiple claims from various lawsuits with parties in more than one state combined into one, larger lawsuit) from state to federal courts. Procedure in federal courts is generally considered less friendly to consumers bringing suits than in state courts; specifically, some state courts are viewed as more likely to award very large sums of money to successful plaintiffs (those who bring the suit) than federal courts. Feinstein's and Bingaman's amendment would have given federal judges flexibility regarding which state's laws to apply in a federal suit where the consumers bringing the lawsuit are from different states. Progressives argued that the amendment merely would have clarified law to ensure that consumers who might be caught in a procedural "Catch-22" with regard to conflicting state laws would be able to find a forum in which to have their cases heard, as opposed to the current situation where federal judges often refuse to hear such cases because the conflict in laws makes the case "unmanageable." Republicans countered that this amendment would have significantly undermined the bill by requiring the courts to hear consumer cases that really ought not to be certified as class-action suits. In addition, opponents accused Progressives-with this and other amendments-of trying to attach provisions to the bill which would ultimately result in the bill's death. They expressed fear that if the Senate were to pass a bill that included any amendments at all, then a conference between the House-which had already passed its own version of the bill-and the Senate would be necessary to reconcile the two versions of the bill, and due to the compromises that had already been struck to pass a bill in the House, the conference would fail and the legislation would die. The Senate defeated the Feinstein/Bingaman Amendment by a vote of 38 to 61; thus, the legislation did not include this additional protection for consumers who have been harmed by corporate misbehavior.

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