Class action lawsuits under threat from lawmakers
by Carol Thompson
Rep. Bob Goodlatte has introduced H.R. 1927 – a bill titled Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015 – which would make it near impossible for Americans to join together in bringing class action lawsuits for nearly any illegal act a corporation might undertake. Goodlatte’s bill strips away consumer protections on everything from deceptive advertising to privacy invasions. It could roll back wage theft protections for workers, antitrust protections for small businesses and securities fraud protections for investors, according to Public Justice.
The proposed legislation stipulates that a class action can only be brought if each and every victim of illegal behavior suffered precisely the same “alleged impact” to their “property,” “of the same type and extent” as every other victim.
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The introduction of the bill falls on the heels of a recently released report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that states that over 32 million cheated Americans are helped every year by class action lawsuits. The report notes that class actions helped consumers recover an average of $220 million a year and “for checking accounts alone, class action settlements over three years totaled over $600 million for at least 19 million consumers.”
H.R. 1927 would also wipe away certain privacy invasions, such as companies that use spyware to turn on home computers and spy on citizens using their own cameras. It would also do away with civil rights discrimination lawsuits.
The bill was introduced last week in the House Judiciary Committee.