No. That’s not the beginning of an independent film or a boring joke. It’s frightening reality. The Republican party, led by a xenophobic narcissist, is promoting a bill (HR 985) that will gut the people’s (that’s all of us) ability to bring class action lawsuits before the courts. Why now?
Ever heard of President Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?[i] These new rules would disproportionately impact the ability for attorneys representing groups of vulnerable immigrants from bringing class action civil rights lawsuits on their behalf.
HR 985 is nothing more than a judicial end run around civil rights laws to aid the President and the Republican Party in supporting a xenophobic agenda on the international stage and corporate lobbyists on the national stage.
Q: What is a consumer class action?
A: A consumer class action is a lawsuit in state or federal court that is brought by one individual, or a few individuals, on behalf of a larger class of people similarly situated.[ii]
-The Ohio State Bar Association
HR 985 is the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017.[iii] Unfortunately, HR 985 is anything but fair. Essentially HR 985 makes it more difficult for individuals to come together and bring a class action lawsuit to the courts. Some of the new requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Creating numerous hurdles that a group must pass before being certified as a “class” (the group of people represented in a class action suit); and
- Instituting new burdensome requirements for multidistrict litigation. (Multidistrict litigation is when a group of common lawsuits pending in different districts are transferred to one district and heard before a special judicial panel. That way all pre-trial proceedings are consolidated and coordinated[iv]); and
- Imposing new rules that “stay” (halt) discovery (the pre-trial action of investigating the claims of a lawsuit) during motions to dismiss, transfer, and strike or dispose of a class allegation. This creates a period in which a defendant may dispose of or influence evidence and puts undue burden on the claimant.
HR 985 has already passed the US House of Representatives. Call your Senator and urge them to vote NO on HR985 and show the country and their colleagues that they are moved to act for the benefit of the people and not for President Trump’s xenophobic agenda and corporate lobbyists.
About the Author: Jenn Kowalski is a Licensed Independent Social Worker with a Masters in Social Work from The Ohio State University. She writes about politics, social issues, health, and living with a chronic illness in her blog 2 for Take Away. For more about her please click here and for more about Jenn’s experience with Lupus & Fibromyalgia click here
[i] See The New York Times, “Trump’s New Travel Ban Blocks Migrants From Six Nations, Sparing Iraq”, www.nytimes.com, published 3/6/2017, retrieved 3/15/2017.
[ii] See The Ohio State Bar Association, “How Do Consumer Class Action Lawsuits Work,” https://www.ohiobar.org/Pages/Home.aspx, 6/24/2016, retrieved 3/15/2017.
[iii] See Congress.gov, “H. Rept. 115-25 – FAIRNESS IN CLASS ACTION LITIGATION ACT OF 2017,” www.congress.gov, retrieved 3/15/2017.
[iv] See the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, “Rules & Procedures: 28 U.S.C. § 1407”, http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov, retrieved 3/15/2017.