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H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017

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Big Business Wins Again . . .and Again. . . and Again

On Thursday March 9, 2017 the House considered H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017. This legislation alters federal tort system rules having to do with class action certification. It directs plaintiffs to meet burdensome requirements before a class can be certified, including showing proof that each member of the class suffered the “same type and scope of injury”. Currently, individuals with injuries suffered for the same reason, such as a defective product, could all join the same class action suit. H.R. 985 requires that the injuries be the same in order to join the same class action suit. So if one person broke a leg and someone else broke an arm because of the same defective product, they would have to join separate lawsuits.

It’s clear that H.R. 985 will burden plaintiffs, making it more difficult and expensive for them to pursue a claim. This, of course, favors corporations who are the focus of these class action lawsuits.

The legislation also requires the disclosure of the personal information of anyone seeking relief through asbestos settlements. So the names and medical histories of people poisoned by asbestos would be accessible to everyone if they or their families pursue reimbursement from the very corporations whose products did the damage. I voted NO. H.R. 985 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

220

14

1

1

DEMOCRAT

0

187

0

6

TOTAL

220

201

1

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0



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