During National Consumer Protection Week, House Passes Bills that Would Gut Laws that Protect Americans from Corporate WrongdoingMarch 10,2017
Washington, DC - The following is a statement from American Association for Justice President Julie Braman Kane on the U.S. House of Representatives recent anti-civil justice voting spree to pass bills that would keep Americans out of court if they are harmed by corporate misconduct:
"It's National Consumer Protection Week, as designated by the Federal Trade Commission, but it appears that the House of Representatives forgot to mark its calendar. Instead of spending the week making sure that consumers harmed by corporate misconduct can pursue justice, the House launched a brazen, unprecedented attack to strip American's of their rights."
"Over the past two days, the House voted to pass legislation that would allow wrongdoers to evade accountability when they cheat consumers, market defective products, poison our communities, harm patients and nursing home residents, discriminate against workers, and lie to the public. It is offensive that any lawmaker would support legislation that rigs the system against the very Americans who elected them, and we applaud the Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who opposed this legislation."
Congress is pushing a series of bills that will make it difficult - if not impossible - for Americans harmed by corporate misconduct to seek justice in our nation's courts.
These anti-civil justice bills are:
H.R. 985, the "Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act," which will strip Americans of the ability join with others to bring consumer, worker, or civil rights class actions against corporations and the "Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act," which helps the asbestos industry in delaying and denying compensation to asbestos victims dying of asbestos disease and threatens the privacy of asbestos victims and their families;
HR 725, the misnamed "Innocent Party Protection Act," would do nothing protect innocent parties. This corporate forum-shopping bill tilts the playing field in favor of large corporate defendants and against everyday Americans seeking to hold them accountable. The only parties "protected" by this bill are the corporations that want to use this bill to move cases away from qualified state court judges and into federal court, making it harder and more expensive for individuals to hold powerful corporations accountable.
HR 720, the "Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act," would reinstate mandatory Rule 11 sanctions that would be used against individuals seeking to enforce civil rights violations, employment discrimination claims, privacy suits, equal protection under the law, and voting rights claims. Judges, not Congress, should decide whether and when court-ordered sanctions are appropriate.