Class Action Reform Will Improve, Not Impede, the Path to Justice

March 03, 2017

Twelve years ago the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) was introduced and critics of legal reform, specifically the plaintiffs’ bar, immediately went into attack mode. Their messaging was doom and gloom for the future of the nation’s civil justice system.

Take, for example, former ATLA (the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, as the group was known at the time) President Richard Middleton’s claim that, the bill would “delay justice for thousands and deny it to others who may be forced to abandon legitimate claims.”

You could also look to opposition letters from public interest groups, which stated that passage of the bill would “substantially reduce the effectiveness of one of the most important legal tools consumers now have.”

The critics were loud, inordinate, and angry. Yet, the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 passed the Senate on a vote of 72 to 26 with bipartisan support including then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama and current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and 15 other Democrats.

Far from ruining our civil justice system, the Class Action Fairness Act greatly improved it. And it did not end class action cases nor deny justice to aggrieved Americans.

While CAFA has been effective, time has allowed some in the plaintiffs’ bar to discover new ways to use our civil justice system for their own advantage.

New legal reform is needed. And right on cue, the opponents are claiming yet again that reforms will block all paths to justice.

The American Association for Justice, the plaintiffs’ lawyers lobbying firm, wrote that modern day legal reforms will “roll back a century of legal progress” and “pushes our country back into the dark ages.” Following suit, organizations like Public Citizen referred to legal reform as something that will “threaten legal rights” and scholars opposed to legal reform argued proposed legislation was “maximalist and harsh” and would “radically restrict access to justice.”

But history has shown that legal reform works. The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 is a critical step toward correcting modern day class action abuses and, contrary to cries from the plaintiffs’ bar, this legislation is not the end of justice as we know it, just as the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 was not an “insurmountable barrier”, but rather an opportunity for fair and timely justice.

To learn more about the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017, click here.

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