Reform Bill Aims to Shake Up Class Actions

by Doug Chartier

new congressional bill seeks to provide defendants with a new arsenal of weapons to defeat a class certification.

The Fairness in Class Action Act of 2017 would, among other things, tighten class certification standards and remove some incentives for plaintiff’s attorneys if passed. What it could mean for companies is that less meritorious class action claims, which would otherwise drag on through discovery, would become more likely to see an early resolution.

Introduced Feb. 9 by House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, the Fairness in Class Action Act proposes a raft of defendant-friendly reforms to class action litigation, affecting everything from attorneys’ fees to delays on discovery. With its many provisions taken together, H.R 985 might be a welcome sight for most companies. 

“The individual reform provisions can provide some benefit, but the overall package could make a substantial impact on the current burden placed on companies defending class action litigation today,” said attorney Paul Williams in an email. Williams is a partner in Shook Hardy & Bacon’s Denver and Kansas City offices, and his complex litigation practice includes mass tort.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the February 27, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.