SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted 220-201 to pass the Fairness In Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017, and one attorney is not pleased to see the bill pass.
"The bill's name should be The Pro-Corruption, Price-Fixer Defense Act, Protection Act," Eric Fastiff, an attorney at Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein LLP, told the Northern California Record. "The fact that the House passed it without holding a hearing, without understanding what it was doing just proves that it was an attempt by the Chamber of Commerce to buy off House members in order to promote its pro-corruption agenda."
Fastiff is not happy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"The Chamber of Commerce is seeking to protect companies that are fixing prices, foreign companies in particular," Fastiff said. "And they're depriving U.S. small businesses and consumers from recovering the money that is stolen from them from anti-trust violations such as price fixing."
Congress.gov shows that the U.S. Senate has read the bill two times and sent it to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Fastiff said he hasn't heard about any proposed state or local government legislation coming into play in California because of the bill.
"I don't see that at this time," he said.
Fastiff said the bill could adversely affect plaintiffs in these types of cases.
"I think there's always the potential that cases can be removed to federal court," Fastiff said. "So a state case under the Class Action Fairness Act can be removed often to federal court. And if so, this bill will seriously undermine the ability of the plaintiffs to recover funds that they normally would've been able to recover under federal law or under state law."
The National Law Journal reported that "the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 would make several changes designed to reduce the number of class actions, particularly those that critics say seek large payouts for speculative or nonexistent injuries."
The National Law Journal also reported that the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act "also would tie attorney fees to the amount of settlements, restrict who plaintiffs attorneys could represent and halt discovery early on in the cases."