Letter to Senate to Support "Class Action Fairness Act"
February 7, 2005
TO MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES 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. 5, the "Class Action Fairness Act" when it is considered by the full Senate and to oppose and vote against all amendments.
S. 5 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 compromise reached in the 108th Congress and memorialized in S. 5 is a reasonable approach to class action reform that preserves the essential elements of earlier versions of the legislation (such as continuing to allow large interstate class actions to be more easily heard in federal court) while making sure that truly local cases remain in state court. In addition, the compromise provides enhanced protections for consumers and class members, particularly in the area of coupon settlements. It is important to note that neither the original Class Action Fairness Act nor S. 5 changes the substantive rights of either plaintiffs or class members to proceed with a lawsuit. The U.S. Chamber supports this compromise and strongly urges you to do so as well. The Chamber also strongly opposes any amendments to this carefully crafted compromise.
This legislation is needed because of the significant increase in national class action lawsuits filed in state courts – particularly magnet court jurisdictions, such as Madison County, Illinois. These cases have significant adverse effects on our economy including 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 vote in favor of S. 5, the Class Action Fairness Act, as well as to oppose and vote against all amendments. The Chamber will include votes on or in relation to S. 5 (including votes on amendments) as key votes in its annual "How They Voted" ratings for 2005.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce