In early July, the U.S. Senate will consider legislation that would make it much more difficult to hold corporations accountable when they deceive consumers, trample our civil or workplace rights, or pollute the environment. This bill – the falsely-named “Class Action Fairness Act” (S. 2062) – is backed by tobacco companies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and big banks.
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) plans to offer a pro-consumer amendment that will improve the bill. Unless the Senate adopts the Bingaman amendment, this bill will unfairly make it harder for consumers to have their day in court.
Please take a moment to ask your senators to support the pro-consumer Bingaman amendment and make the class action bill fairer. Then ask your family and friends to help by forwarding this e-mail to them.
“Class actions” are lawsuits in which a group of people of modest means can join together to legally challenge large companies guilty of cheating consumers with defective products or deceptive business practices, or of otherwise violating health, safety, workplace and environmental laws. The threat of class action lawsuits helps limit corporate crime. For example, if a bank uses an unfair practice to cheat thousands of customers out of $100 each, the class action mechanism can help those customers recover their losses. Otherwise, each person could not afford a lawyer to take on a large company.
The misnamed “Class Action Fairness Act” (S. 2062) is an attempt by the business lobby to restrict consumer access to the courts. The bill moves class action suits from state courts, where they have traditionally been heard, to unsuitable and overburdened federal courts, which are much more friendly to corporate interests. Many of the same companies that have been found guilty of illegal practices in the past are behind this effort and are using this bill to shut down future class action lawsuits.
Senator Bingaman (NM) will offer a pro-consumer amendment to this bill that would allow the federal courts to certify nationwide class actions brought under state consumer laws – something they currently do not do. That way consumers in many states can file one nationwide case against a corporate wrongdoer instead of filing numerous expensive lawsuits in each state. Class action victories in state court routinely benefit consumers living in other states who were also victims. Without the Bingaman amendment, consumer attorneys may not be able to protect consumers in smaller states if the bill is enacted because it will be too costly to bring legal actions in small states with a smaller number of consumers. If this bill passes without the Bingaman amendment, consumers will lose an important right that they have today: the right to win a nationwide class action, compensate victims, and change corporate behavior.
Please take a moment to ask your senators to support the pro-consumer Bingaman amendment to make the class action bill fairer. Then ask your family and friends to help by forwarding this e-mail to them.