Hagens Berman Blog

New Bill (H.R. 985) Could Threaten Your Rights to Form or Join a Class Action

by Steve Berman

03/08/2017

Tell Congress to Protect Your Class Action Rights | Take Action Now


From the Desk of Steve Berman: 

Today, I want to reach out to you about some very serious threats to your ability to use the courts to vindicate your rights. The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a series of bills which, if passed, would have devastating consequences to individuals like you and would tip the scales in favor of powerful corporate wrongdoers.

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. If this bill became law, many of the cases that are important to you, would not have been brought.
  • For example, if this bill were law, the recent case against Volkswagen relating to their diesel emissions would not have been possible. Our case against General Motors relating to the ignition switch defect in GM vehicles, which GM has admitted killed more than 100 people, would not have been brought. Our case against Bank of America alleging that the bank deprived struggling homeowners the opportunity to lawfully modify their mortgages, could not have been brought. Our case that uncovered an illegal overpricing scheme that artificially increased the price of e-books would have never been possible, nor the $400 million settlement that brought consumers full repayment. Class actions are what allowed our firm to right wrongs from World War II, bringing aid to a class of Hungarian Holocaust survivors and their families who were deprived of their belongings. College athletes who suffered life-altering concussions during play would have no medical monitoring system. Diabetic patients who have been price-gouged for insulin would have no recourse. The list goes on and on.
  • H.R. 1215, the "Protecting Access to Care Act," which undermines state law and eliminates the rights of Americans to bring certain health care claims when they are injured by medical malpractice and dangerous drugs and devices, or when they or their families are injured or killed in a nursing home.
  • H.R. 906, 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.
  • H.R. 725, the "Innocent Party Protection Act," which allows corporate defendants to more easily move a case into a more favorable forum.
  • H.R. 720, the "Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act," which forces a court to impose sanctions on attorneys who bring novel legal cases.
  • H.R. 732, the "Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act," which prohibits non-profits and charities from being able to receive compensation from corporations found to have committed widespread harm to the public. Send a strong message to Congress that these anti-civil justice bills not only stand to empower corrupt corporations, but also deprive citizens of a right to join together, which often, is the only way for an ordinary citizen to take on a large and powerful corporation.

These bills are scheduled to be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives on March 9 and March 10. A vote is scheduled for March 10.

Do not be fooled by the names of these bills, which wrongly suggest they are designed to help people. If you agree that it is unacceptable for Congress to eliminate your rights to hold corporations accountable, contact your federal Representatives and Senators today. Tell them to stand up for you and your family. Tell them to vote no to offensive anti-civil justice legislation and uphold your rights. Visit www.takejusticeback.com to find contact information for your elected officials in Washington. You will also find a sample letter you can send to your Representative and Senators.

Take action today. Your elected officials need to hear that you want to preserve your rights to access the civil justice system. This last election season has reminded us all of the importance of making our voices heard, and that every vote counts.

There is strength in numbers. The same principle that makes a class-action lawsuit a threatening tool to fight corporate greed means that your collective voices can impact your Congressperson.

Visit www.takejusticeback.com today.

Sincerely,

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Steve W. Berman
Managing Partner