Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act

The class action device is a necessary and an important part of the US legal system. It promotes efficiency by allowing plaintiffs with similar claims to adjudicate their cases fairly in one proceeding. It allows claims to be heard in cases in which there are small harms to a large number of people that would otherwise go unaddressed because the cost for an individual plaintiff to sue would far exceed the benefits. In February, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to examine the state of class action litigation and current concerns. On April 22, 2015, the Committee’s Chairman Bob Goodlatte introduced the Bill, H.R. 1927, “The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015”, which seeks to further improve the fairness of class actions by imposing limits on a court’s ability to certify classes in which members have not suffered the same types of alleged injury/damages.

The Bill aims to reform the existing federal class action lawsuit framework and needs to ensure that the classes in class action litigation are of a similar nature with regards to the injury and its extent. The press release for introducing the Bill announced that it purports “to strengthen federal class action lawsuit rules by ensuring victims who have experienced actual or comparable injury are justly compensated.” [1]

The press release of the Committee indicated that under the proposed legislation, uninjured or non-comparably injured parties can still join class actions, but must do so separately from the parties that experienced the more extensive injury.

In introducing the Bill, Chairman Goodlatte stated:[2]

“The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act is a simple, one-page bill that furthers a common sense principle that should apply to class action lawsuits in the future. Only those people who share injuries of the same type and extent should be part of a class action lawsuit”;

while Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks opined that:

Class action lawsuits should allow those with serious injuries to have their own day in court. The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act would do just that.”

The Bill intends to strike a balance between the plaintiff(s) and defendants(s) as it would be integral in improving the civil justice system in the United States. Moreover, since abusive class action practices still exist today, there is a further need to improve the system so as to ensure that class action lawsuits are fair and impartial.

[1] http://judiciary.house.gov/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=026AC351-9303-4B9B-863E-FA80E5F8EADD

[2] Id.

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