What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : HR 2341. Class Action Lawsuits/Vote to Allow Consideration of a Bill Designed to Curb Class Action Lawsuits (and Opportunities for Justice) by Assigning Original Jurisdiction to Overworked Federal Courts Rather Than State Courts in Those Cases. (2002 house Roll Call 55)
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HR 2341. Class Action Lawsuits/Vote to Allow Consideration of a Bill Designed to Curb Class Action Lawsuits (and Opportunities for Justice) by Assigning Original Jurisdiction to Overworked Federal Courts Rather Than State Courts in Those Cases.
house Roll Call 55     Mar 13, 2002
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

In the shadow of class action shareholder lawsuits against Enron and other corporations, House Republicans struggled to pass a measure to make such lawsuits less attractive to plaintiffs. Republicans complained that state laws made class action lawsuits easy to bring and more likely to bear fruit, and that plaintiffs could "venue shop" for the state that would make the outcome most advantageous to them. To address this issue, Republicans proposed a bill that would make it easier to file a class action suit in federal court, where the chances of a pro-corporate decision were greater. Progressives and Democrats in general argued that because class-action suits were often the only means of calling corporations to task for their behavior, permissive state laws were to be encouraged, not circumvented. They also noted that, in the absence of class-action litigation, Enron's employee shareholders would have lost their retirement savings with no recourse. In the House, the rules for debate on a bill must ordinarily be voted on separately. Opponents of a bill with try to block the rule in hopes of sinking the bill itself. For this reason, Progressives opposed the rule for the class action lawsuit bill. Progressives also stood opposed when Republicans moved to order the previous question-a way of ending debate about the rule and holding a vote on it-because voting down the previous question motion would essentially vote down the rule, and the bill itself. Despite their opposition and the opposition of all but six Democrats, the motion passed, 221-198. The rule was then agreed to on a voice (unrecorded) vote.

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