[Homestead] Hah, Hah, Hah----you can't sue me--a few million dollar bribes did the trick

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Feb 10 19:36:06 EST 2005

tvoivozhd---Bush, GOP frenzy to deny citizens access to State courts via 
making Class Action suits against corporations impossible---Corporate 
Welfare at its absolute worst..

Senate Takes Up Class-Action Restrictions
Consumer Groups Try to Soften Measure Forcing Lawsuits Into Federal Courts

By John F. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 8, 2005; Page A04

The Senate began debate yesterday on a measure that would revise rules 
on class-action lawsuits -- a longtime goal of President Bush and his 
business supporters -- as consumer groups urgently tried to garner 
support for amendments they said would make an objectionable bill 
somewhat more palatable.

Consumer groups, plaintiffs' lawyers and many state attorneys general 
said they would prefer to defeat the Class Action Fairness Act, which 
would send many class-action cases out of state courts and into the 
federal system, which historically is less sympathetic to the claims.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy: "Class actions allow the little guys to band 
together." (Chris Kleponis -- Bloomberg News)

But solid support by the Republican leadership in both chambers, 
combined with backing from several influential Democrats in the Senate, 
has opponents' backs against the wall. Acknowledging that the bill is on 
a fast track for passage, opponents said yesterday that they are 
lobbying for amendments to help ensure that class-action cases are not 
dismissed by federal judges.

While the bill has garnered the attention of powerful interests, with 
potentially large consequences for business and consumers, this week's 
debate is turning on somewhat arcane provisions of law.

Supporters, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have long maintained 
that class-action lawsuits are waged amid a patchwork of state laws. The 
result, they said, is an irrational system in which lawyers shop for 
sympathetic local venues, regardless of whether that is the most logical 
place for a case to be heard, and in which there is little consistency 
in awards. The bill would send cases with plaintiffs in multiple states 
into the federal system.

The problem, opponents say, is that federal courts are overburdened, and 
often disinclined to hear such cases. Frequently, when presented with a 
case in which laws from different states might apply and in some cases 
contradict one another, judges will refuse to "certify" that a valid 
class-action claim exists and the case is thrown out.

A planned amendment by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) would address this by 
requiring federal judges to hear the case by selecting one state's law 
and applying it to the case. The amendment, according to backers, would 
test whether the real point of changing the rules is to hear more cases 
in federal court, or to guarantee that far fewer cases are ever heard.

Late yesterday, Senate aides said Bingaman was working with Sen. Dianne 
Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has been a backer of the bill, on a possible 
compromise aimed at ensuring that class-action cases do get heard by 
federal courts, rather than dismissed. Feinstein is concerned that 
federal courts might apply state laws from states other than California, 
which has strong consumer protections.

The fate of the Bingaman amendment may prove pivotal to the bill's fate. 
The House in recent years has backed a stronger version of the 
legislation that would tighten rules on class-action lawsuits even more 
than the Senate.

Last week, however, the House GOP leadership said that in the interest 
of speedy passage it would accept the Senate version of the bill -- 
provided it passes with no amendments.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he supports the 
bill, but also the amendment to ensure that federal courts actually hear 
the cases. The committee's ranking Democrat, Sen Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), 
is opposed to the bill in general.

Class-action cases often involve small grievances -- people who feel 
they have been victims of credit card rip-offs, for instance -- that are 
worth pursuing as legal actions only if multiple claims can be lumped 

"Cheating thousands of people just a little is still cheating," Leahy 
said on the Senate floor. "Class actions allow the little guys to band 
together, allow them to afford a competent lawyer and allow them to 
redress wrongdoing."

But Stan Anderson, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official leading a 
business coalition in support of the bill, said that zeal for large 
damage awards often leads lawyers to lump together claims that do not 
logically belong in one suit, making federal judges justified in 
preferring to dismiss the cases. "Trial lawyers are lazy," Anderson 
said. "They could style their cases to get around these problems," but 
doing so would mean trying several small cases instead of one 
potentially lucrative big one, he said.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going

fast enough."
    - Mario Andretti

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