The latest assault on the civil justice community is H.R. 985, a bill that was introduced into the U. S. House of Representatives earlier this month. Simply put, H.R. 985 seeks to eliminate the rights of Americans to bring class actions or multidistrict litigation (MDL) efforts against those who have harmed them.
Class actions and MDLs are often the only viable options available for people who have been injured by large corporations. These actions level the playing field when those who were harmed would otherwise not likely have the resources to seek compensation from companies that pay for the best defense representation in the country.
Dangerous drugs and medical devices, defective automobiles, and environment-related injuries are often litigated through MDLs. Without an MDL, the cost of bringing an individual case against a big company will outweigh the potential verdict or settlement amount a person could gain. As a result, injured patients and the families of those who died would not likely pursue a claim, and those negligent corporations who caused the harm would be given immunity despite their wrongdoings.
Unfortunately, H.R. 985 is just one of several tort reform bills filed or anticipated in the next few months. At this time, the bill is being fast-tracked through the House and no hearings are being held.
What are people doing to prevent our rights as Americans from being taken away? Lawyers as well as major legal organizations and non-partisan consumer, patient rights and constitutional organizations are taking aim to fight the bill in Congress. Please consider contacting members of Congress with us directly to ask them to stand up for you and all Americans who deserve the right to hold big companies accountable for the products and decisions they make that affect all of us. You can obtain contact information for your members of Congress at www.congress.gov.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).