Thursday, February 10, 2005

Tort Reform - Part I

The Washington Post reports that the Senate is about to pass a bill requiring that class action suits be tried in federal court. Link.
The measure is designed to funnel class-action suits with plaintiffs in different states out of state courts and into the federal court system, which is historically much less sympathetic to such litigation. It is the first installment of several measures Bush is seeking this year to curb what he described in a speech yesterday as excessive lawsuits that sap the risk-taking spirit on which a "capitalist society" depends.

Business groups have sought for years to create what they called a more rational system for class-action suits, which are waged amid a patchwork of state laws. Critics say plaintiffs' lawyers often shop for local courts where judges and juries have reputations for acting favorably on the class-action suits, even if there is no logical reason for cases to be heard in these venues.

Most class action suits that I have looked at were scams. I think one in which I was a "class member" was pretty typical. It had something to do with a credit card I used. I received a check in the mail for $0.20, which I framed, rather than cashed. I started to read the document that came with it, to learn what had been done to me that deserved such largesse, but I could not continue any further after reading that the attorneys were receiving $3 million. At least I got cash. I have read of several class action suits where the "aggrieved" received cents-off coupons on their next purchase from the malefactor, who had paid their attorneys millions.


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