Defeat of Class Action Bill Signals Win for Consumers

Statement of Rachel Weintraub, Assistant General Counsel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts:
Rachel Weintraub, (202) 387- 6121
October 22, 2003

Consumer Federation of America applauds the 39 Senators who voted to oppose S. 1751, the so- called "Class Action Fairness Act." This vote was not only a vote against a broad and dangerous change to our civil justice system, it was also a vote in favor of consumers' rights.

This legislation would have denied consumers access to adequate redress against corporate wrongdoers and would have undermined the ability of state courts to hear cases primarily concerned with their own citizens. S. 1751 was unfair to consumers and we applaud those courageous Senators who opposed the bill today.

While purporting to curtail "class action abuses," S. 1751 would have virtually wiped out state class actions, thereby removing what is sometimes the only venue for redress of injury or fraud for consumers. The bill would have made it more difficult for consumers to obtain effective and efficient judicial relief for injuries, for example, caused by defective products, fraud in the marketplace, or discrimination. The jurisdictional changes mandated by S. 1751 were designed solely to impede class actions, not to make them fairer or more efficient.

Congress should seek to hold negligent wrongdoers accountable for their actions, not offer the special interests more protections. This is what the Senate ultimately did today. Thirty-nine senators recognized that S. 1751 would have made it more difficult for consumers to obtain redress, to hold bad actors accountable for the harms they cause, and to deter future misconduct. We thank the Senate for opposing this anti-consumer legislation.

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Consumer Federation of America is a non-profit association of 300 consumer groups, with a combined membership of more than 50 million people. CFA was founded in 1968 to advance the consumers' interest through advocacy and education.