Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio speaks to Farron Cousins, Executive Editor of The Trial Lawyer Magazine, about a new bill introduced by House Republicans that would limit the ability of consumers to file class-action lawsuits.
Transcript of the above video:
Congressional Republicans continue to try and pass extreme right-wing pieces of legislations, such as abolishing the EPA or withdrawing from the United Nations. The latest bill introduced by Virginia representative, Bob Goodlatte is no exception. H.R. 985, titled The Fairness in Class Action Legislation Act of 2017 would severely limit the ability of consumers to file class action lawsuits against corporations.
Republicans have long tried to push limiting consumers’ rights in the guise of tort reform, and this bill would go a long way in achieving their dream of insulating corporate America from any sort of accountability. Join now to discuss this bill is Farron Cousins, Executive Editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine.
Farron, can you break down exactly what this bill’s about? Why should consumers be alarmed by this?
What they’re trying to do is make it to where if a specific product or prescription drug harms a consumer, if those consumers do not have the same kind of harm, for example, if a drug causes both kidney failure and heart failure, they can’t join into the same class. There would have to be two separate class action lawsuits or three, depending on how many side effects, one for the heart failure, one for the kidney failure.
What they’re trying to do is overload all of the attorneys in this country, saying, “You can’t bring all these cases at once. You’re going to have to break these down, work on separate cases, allocate your resources to this specific ailment or this one and this one,” and essentially stretch the attorneys in this country as far as possible to where they can’t even handle the litigation.
Yeah. Well, Republicans have been trying to close the door to the courthouse is what they want. It’s okay if two corporations want to sue each other, but when somebody who’s blinded or crippled by a product, they don’t want that person in court against their corporation. How does this fella even justify all this? Where does he get this rationale that this is good idea?
They’re still using the talking points they came up with in the 1980s, trying to paint this as, “We’re trying to restrict the greedy trial lawyers from bilking consumers, from bilking the plaintiffs out of money.” It’s the same kind of talking point. Like I said, they’ve been using since the ’80s when they came up with this plan to defund the left, because at that time basically up all the way until Citizens United, the trial lawyers and the labor unions were the two biggest donors for the Democrat party.
Now, in a post Citizens United world, securities and investment bankers, Wall Street banks have taken over as the biggest donor, but they still want to go after the trial lawyers because it hurts their corporations. Their corporate donors are the ones that they’re trying to protect in this-
The real irony is when you have one of these cats in your office that wants this legislation, and it’s their child or their spouse who’s been killed or crippled by one of these products and they ask the question, “Gee, I didn’t know that would actually happen to me.” You follow stories like that as editor of the journal, don’t you? I mean you have actually had to write stories similar to that, haven’t you?
Oh, absolutely, and we see it happen around the country all the time. People vote for somebody because they say, “Oh, well, we need tort reform. That’s why healthcare costs are so, so bad.” The state of Texas, the healthcare system is in shambles because they’ve enacted tort reform laws.
Now, people who voted for tort reform politicians, they have children who get harmed by a negligent doctor. They can no longer sue or they can’t bring the case, or they can’t find anybody willing to take it up because they simply can’t. They’re overloaded. These people realize too late often that they made the mistake in voting for the person that wanted to take away their rights. That’s exactly what the [crosstalk 00:03:40].
Yeah, and I’ve sat in offices with them where people have lost family members. People that thought things like this were a good idea until it’s their family and they don’t have any right to go to courtroom. Their damages are limited. Their access to the court is limited completely. Farron, I have to tell you, we’re going to follow this as it makes its way through legislation.
Thanks for joining me.