NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

In Search of Class-Action Restraints

June 12, 2003

Those who remain ever-hopeful that tort reforms will one day come to pass are watching the progress of one important bit of reform called the Class-Action Fairness Act -- which is scheduled for a House vote today.

What has happened to class-action litigation is scandalous and this bill cries out for House approval and Senate passage, many legal experts say.

  • Class-action filings are up ten-fold in the past decade and the abuses of the system by tort lawyers have become legendary.
  • For example, an Alabama state court judge approved a settlement in a recent case which resulted in $8.5 million going to attorneys and just $6.84 going to each client.
  • After attorneys' fees, class members actually lost money.
  • The House bill would end many of the plaintiffs' bar's notorious abuses and the chances of House and even Senate approval appear encouraging.

But the legislation is not perfect. An amendment clearly written by the trial lawyers and obligingly inserted by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) would provide the lawyers a huge loophole and should come out.

Then after a number of failed attempts to achieve reform, President Bush will finally have on his desk something he can sign.

Source: Editorial, "Class-Action Showdown," Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2003.

For text:


Browse more articles on Government Issues