What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : S. 5. Class-Action Lawsuits/Vote to Table (Kill) Amendment to Exempt State Attorney General Suits from Provisions of Bill Making It More Difficult for Injured Consumers to Bring Suit in State Courts. (2005 senate Roll Call 5)
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S. 5. Class-Action Lawsuits/Vote to Table (Kill) Amendment to Exempt State Attorney General Suits from Provisions of Bill Making It More Difficult for Injured Consumers to Bring Suit in State Courts.
senate Roll Call 5     Feb 09, 2005
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the Senate voted to table (kill) an amendment by Mark Pryor (D-AR) to exempt state attorney general suits from the provisions of 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. Progressives argued that the Pryor Amendment would clarify that state attorneys general-the top law enforcement officers of their respective states-would not be restricted in their abilities to bring suits on behalf of the citizens they serve. Pryor noted several contexts where state attorneys general need the flexibility to pursue class-action suits against large corporations, including the enforcement of shareholder rights and employee rights, telemarketers who target the elderly population, and various product-safety suits. Opponents of the amendment insisted that state attorney generals already have the authority they need under state parens patriae laws (the government stands in the place of the citizen) to bring suit in matters which affect primarily their own citizens. 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 in the House, the conference would fail and the legislation would die. The Senate voted 60 to 39 to table (kill) Pryor's amendment, and thus the guarantee that state attorneys general would have full flexibility to protect consumers' interests in their states was not included in the bill.

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