Saturday, February 19, 2005

Little-noticed class action reform

Here's AP's take on class action reform:
Even though businesses failed to get the measure to apply to suits already in the courts, the legislation was a victory for companies that have complained for decades that they have been dragged into far-flung local courts and subjected to massive, unwarranted jury awards.

Consumer groups contend that federal courts are much less sympathetic to — or even less likely to hear — class-action suits, which are a crucial tool against well-financed industries like tobacco, oil, pharmaceutical and others. As a result, Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron called it "legislation that makes it easier for corporations to evade responsibility for making right their wrongs."
The Association of Trial Lawyers of America seems to have noticed at least:
This brazen and shameless attack on Americans' legal rights was well-funded by the insurance, drug and other industries. Indeed, the U.S. Chamber of Congress openly acknowledged this week that it spent more than $53 million in 2004 alone on efforts to lobby this bill and others that undermine the legal rights of American families.
And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce celebrates:
“The speed with which this bill passed both houses of Congress this session is a testament to the glaring need for class action reform,” continued Donohue. “This is a landmark victory in our fight to restore fairness and balance to our courts.”
But there is still precious little commentary on this, especially from the Left. Nothing from Kos (focused mostly on Gannon), Atrios (Gannon and lots of other miscellania), Drum (nothing of consequence lately except a post or two on Social Security) or Marshall (Social Security and Gannon).

Hello? Something big just happened guys! Wake up!

UPDATE: Looks like I'm just late to the party. Commenter Steve L from Secure Liberty blog noted the story when the Senate passed the bill, including reaction from Kevin Drum. I'd heard about the Senate action on the radio, but didn't have time to peruse the blogs that day. How embarassing!