What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : H.R. 1115. 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. (2003 house Roll Call 265)
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H.R. 1115. 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 265     Jun 12, 2003
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

Republicans have made several efforts in recent years to impose limits on the amount a plaintiff may receive in damages for lawsuits involving medical malpractice and asbestos exposure. In a move to further reform the tort system, GOP leaders introduced legislation which would require federal courts--and not state courts--to handle class action lawsuits in cases where the plaintiffs are from a different state than the defendant, at least one-hundred plaintiffs are involved in the case, or if the expected damages exceeds $2 million (these qualifications would apply to nearly all class action lawsuits). The legislation would also make the rules changes retroactive, thereby transferring already-filed class action suits from state to federal courts. In the view of Progressives, the proposed rules changes to class action lawsuits would hinder the ability of victims of corporate fraud or other criminal acts from receiving timely justice and reparations. In the course of debate, Progressives argued that the federal bench is already overburdened with cases; requiring federal courts to handle most class action lawsuits, Progressives noted, would delay justice for months or even years. Second, the rules changes contained in the bill would be retroactive. Progressives pointed out that the retroactivity would apply to already-filed class action lawsuits against Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Anderson, and other known corporate criminals. Progressives opposed the legislation because, in their view, the policy changes would protect corporate wrongdoers against the individuals that they harm and would enable fraudulent corporations and their executives to escape accountability for their illegal activities. The subject of this vote was a motion to move the previous question on a rule governing debate on the measure. If successful, the procedural motion would end debate and the possibility of amendment on the rule. Progressives voted in opposition to the motion to proceed based on their objections to the underlying legislation. On a 229-193 vote, the motion to allow the bill to proceed in the legislative process was adopted.

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