The War Against Consumers & Class Action Lawsuits

Congress is in the middle of debating a bill that would reduce consumer rights while tightening the controls on class-action lawsuits. H.R. 985, the ‘Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017’, favors big business and corporations and makes it increasingly difficult for consumers and victims of corporate fraud and abuse to seek remedies. The bill is being proposed by Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginian Republican. If this bill is passed, it would effectively limit what kinds of litigation could be considered class action – making it burdensome for plaintiffs and their lawyers while giving big corporations a “get out of jail free” card for committing fraud on its customers. Nearly every single major civil rights organization in America has vehemently opposed H.R. 985.

Under H.R. 985, class action lawsuits would not be able to be pursued if the plaintiffs have not all suffered the same exact injuries. An advantage would be given to corporate defendants who could retain specialized counsel in courts while restrictions are placed on the types of relationships lawyers can have with the plaintiffs. The bill forbids any plaintiff who was previously a client of the class lawyer to be a representative in a class case. Class certification decisions would be automatically appealable, and attorney fees would be grossly limited in class action and MDL lawsuits.

Perhaps the most worrisome requirement of the bill is the requirement that plaintiffs need to demonstrate a mechanism for identifying each class member. This is something that is virtually impossible in many consumer class action lawsuits.

Who would be hurt by H.R. 985? According to the Huffington Post, Goodlatte’s bill would “roll back protections for defrauded investors, cheated consumers, people whose privacy has been violated, small businesses harmed by price fixing, workers cheated by wage theft, and pretty much anyone harmed in any way by corporations that break the law.”

Corporate greed and fraud is rampant in America and class action lawsuits help offer consumers a legal tool to hold corporations accountable for their misconduct. Just this year alone Wells Fargo got into legal trouble after revelations that they cheated 2 million consumers by creating false and unauthorized credit card and checking accounts in their names. Volkswagen was caught rigging their pollution control devices to defraud the public and rake in profits. Defective Chinese dry wall has been damaging homes for years. Medical devices, such as the morcellator and pelvic mesh implants have led to severe injury and death in consumers. If this proposal became law, none of these cases would be able to proceed.

How do class action lawsuits help consumers? Class action lawsuits are already strictly regulated and judges often err on the side of caution before allowing litigation to proceed. Rules already exist that require plaintiffs to prove the veracity of their claims before joining the litigation and settlements in all class action lawsuits must be court approved before being finalized and that includes the amount of attorney fees. However, it is a valuable tool for consumers of all backgrounds and financial statuses. When a corporation or company has wronged them, class action lawsuits allow them to fight back, and share legal resources with other consumers that have been wronged. It allows consumers to fight Big Pharma, predatory investors, and fraudulent auto manufacturers.

Contact Us

If you have been a victim of corporate fraud, a defective product, or a dangerous drug, you may be eligible to participate in a national class action lawsuit. To learn more about your legal options or to schedule a free consultation call the Philadelphia consumer protection lawyers at Golomb Legal today at 1-800-355-3300 or 1-215-985-9177 or fill out our confidential Contact Form.

The national consumer protection lawyers at Golomb Legal have successfully represented individuals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and throughout the United States.