Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) released the following statement upon the House Judiciary Committee’s approval of the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 (H.R. 985) by a vote of 19-12.

Chairman Goodlatte: “Class action suits were designed to address legitimate claims. These suits were supposed to level the playing field for consumers and businesses alike to have access to a fair and just system to address their grievances.

“Today, the class action litigation system has morphed into an expensive enterprise where lawyers are often the only winners, and American businesses and consumers are the losers. Frivolous class action lawsuits are costing parties millions of dollars, and trial lawyers often profit at the expense of deserving victims.

“Over ten years ago, I authored the Class Action Fairness Act, which was signed into law to curb abuses in the class action litigation system. Since then, lawyers have been able to find loopholes in the law, and new measures are required to protect innocent individuals and businesses who have become the victims of frivolous suits.

“When baseless claims come into our courtrooms, the real losers are hardworking Americans. Today’s action addresses the abuses within our class action litigation system, and keeps baseless class action suits away from innocent parties, while still keeping the doors to justice open for parties with real and legitimate claims.”

Background: Introduced by Chairman Goodlatte, provisions of the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (FICALA) seek to maximize recoveries by deserving victims, and weed out unmeritorious claims that would otherwise siphon resources away from innocent parties. Among the legislation’s reforms, the bill requires that classes consist of members with the same type and scope of injury. Under the proposed legislation, uninjured or non-comparably injured parties can still join class actions, but must do so separately from parties that experienced more extensive injury.

The bill also contains additional provisions to:

  • Prohibit judges from approving class actions in which the lawyer representing the class is a relative of a party in the class action suit.
  • Require that class action lawyers should only get paid after the victims get paid.
  • Order any third-party funding agreement be disclosed to the district court.
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