Class Action Fairness

(January 27, 2005) - The Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) was reintroduced in the Senate on Tuesday, January 25, as S. 5 by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI). (See below for a listing of cosponsors.) The bill for the 109th Congress is identical to S. 2062 in the 108th Congress. We need your help in securing the 60 votes that are likely necessary to block procedural delays by the trial bar and their Senate allies.

Background:

Interstate class actions are increasingly being brought in certain state courts known to favor plaintiffs in cases against out-of-state companies. While some of these suits have merit, far too many are frivolous. Class action lawyers know, however, that it often makes business sense for defendants to settle rather than litigate. CAFA would curb trial lawyer "forum shopping" by shifting most major class action suits to federal court. The bill includes a plaintiff's "Bill of Rights" and would not limit the ability of anyone to file a class action lawsuit. It merely helps to ensure that the case is heard in a more appropriate, and often a far more unbiased, venue.

In late 2003, the Senate failed by one vote to secure final action on class action legislation. Since that time, three senators who opposed industry's position - Dodd (D-CT), Landrieu (D-LA) and Schumer (D-NY) - secured minor changes and then declared their support for S. 2062. All three are cosponsors of S. 5.

Action Needed:

  1. Contact Senator Charles Grassley and other cosponsors - especially Democrats - at their state and/or Washington offices to thank them for their continued support;

  2. Contact other returning senators who voted in favor of the Class Action Fairness Act on 10/22/2003 and ask for their continued support;

  3. If you have Illinois and/or Colorado facilities, especially contact newly elected Senators Barak Obama (D-IL) and Ken Salazar (D-CO) to ask for their support for CAFA. In addition, the Class Action Fairness Coalition is seeking co-signatories for a group letter to Senator Obama and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).

Message:

Our message is simple: "I'm a manufacturer and we need you to support the Class Action Fairness Act. Are you with us?" Additional talking points:

  • The compromise is delicate and took careful negotiations. Oppose all non-consensus amendments.
  • The Class Action Fairness Act would clarify that federal courts should hear major class action cases that involve at least 100 plaintiffs from multiple states or foreign countries.
  • It will limit "forum shopping," where trial lawyers use creative means to file litigation in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions.
  • The bill contains a "Bill of Rights" to help class members stem the most flagrant abuses of the current system.
  • The Founders of the Constitution intended for lawsuits involving plaintiffs and defendants from multiple states and foreign countries to be heard in federal courts.
  • All consumers pay higher prices due to the settlement of cases with little merit.
  • Please contact The Silver Users Association at (703) 960-7790, with any information that may be helpful to our lobbying efforts.

Original Cosponsors (in addition to Senators Grassley and Kohl):
Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Chris Dodd (D-CT), John Ensign (R-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bill Frist (R-TN), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Trent Lott (R-MS), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Mitch McConnell (R-KY),Charles Schumer (D-NY), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA), and George Voinovich