Chamber Support for the Class Action Fairness Act
October 20, 2003
To Members of the U.S. Senate:
On behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region, I write to strongly urge you to support S. 1751, the "Class Action Fairness Act," vote for cloture on both the motion to proceed as well as on the underlying bill, vote in favor of the motion to proceed as well as vote to pass the legislation. The Chamber also strongly urges you to oppose any hostile amendments.
S. 1751 is an important piece of legislation that directly addresses the issue of abusive class action lawsuits in state courts where the rights of class members and defendants are frequently trampled. The bi-partisan, S. 1751 is a moderate and narrowly tailored bill that allows large interstate class actions to more easily be heard in federal court rather than in state courts selected through "forum shopping." In addition, S. 1751 provides enhanced protections for consumers and class members, such as increased scrutiny of coupon settlements and plain-notice requirements. It is important to note that the Class Action Fairness Act does not change the substantive rights of either plaintiffs or class members to proceed with a lawsuit.
S. 1751 is needed because of the significant increase in national class action lawsuits filed in state courts. These cases have significant adverse effects on our economy such as higher prices for goods and services, increased insurance premiums, lowered earnings, and reduced innovation. It is also important to note that small businesses suffer under the current class action system because local suppliers, agents, retailers, dealers and other small businesses are brought into the litigation to prevent removal of the cases to federal court. In short, small businesses are named as defendants and must defend themselves, even though they have nothing to do with the case.
Because of the importance of class action reform to consumers, businesses, and employees across the country, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly urges you to support S. 1751, vote for cloture on both the motion to proceed and the underlying bill, vote in favor of the motion to proceed and vote to pass the legislation. The Chamber also strongly urges you to oppose any hostile amendments. The Chamber will include votes on or in relation to S. 1751 as a key vote in its annual "How They Voted" ratings for 2003.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce