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40 Harv. J. on Legis. 493 (2003)
Class Action Fairness - A Bad Deal for the States and Consumers

handle is hein.journals/hjl40 and id is 499 raw text is: ESSAY
CLASS ACTION FAIRNESS-A BAD DEAL
FOR THE STATES AND CONSUMERS
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN CONYERS, JR.*
The House of Representatives has repeatedly considered bills that would
expand federal diversity jurisdiction to include class actions in which only
minimal diversity exists between plaintiffs and defendants. Though three such
bills have failed, members of Congress will probably propose another In this
Essay, Representative John Conyers Jr (D-Mich.) argues that enacting this
legislation would be a mistake. Such a change would add to the already heavy
burdens of the federal court system and would obstruct state courts'applica-
tion of both the substantive and the procedural law of their states. Expanding
diversity jurisdiction in this manner would impose unfair disadvantages on
class action plaintiffs, threatening suits against the tobacco and firearms in-
dustries, among others.
Class action procedures establish a mechanism to aggregate claims
against a single defendant, offering access to courts to plaintiffs who would
otherwise be barred because their claims are too small to justify the expense
of a lawsuit. Last year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that, if
enacted, would have undercut the very purpose of these procedures by
making it far more burdensome, expensive, and time-consuming for groups
of injured persons to mount class action claims.' Though the 107th Con-
gress adjourned before the Senate voted on the bill, in effect killing it,
the issues underlying this legislation are far from dead: even though the
107th Congress was the third consecutive Congress to refuse to enact this
type of bill,2 new versions have been introduced in the 108th Congress.'
Member, United States House of Representatives (D-Mich.). Wayne State University,
1957; L.L.B., 1958. Portions of this Article appeared as Dissenting Views in the House
Committee on the Judiciary's report concerning the Class Action Fairness Act of 2002,
H.R. 2341, 107th Cong. (2002). See H.R. REP. No. 107-370, at 123-34 (2002). 1 was the
ranking signatory of the Dissenting Views. See id. at 134.
'See H.R. 2341. The House Committee on the Judiciary passed this bill, introduced by
Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), on March 7, 2002 by a 16-10 vote. See H.R. REP.
No. 107-370, at 22 (2002). The Act passed the House on March 13, 2002 by 233-190 vote.
See 107 Cong. Rec. H885 (daily ed. Mar. 13, 2002).
2 The first bill appeared during the 105th Congress, when the Judiciary Committee
marked-up and reported out the Class Action Jurisdiction Act of 1998, H.R. 3789, 105th
Cong. (1998). See H.R. REP. No. 105-702, at 10 (1998). The full House never considered
that bill. In 1999, after a hearing and mark-up, the House Committee on the Judiciary re-
ported out, by a 15-12 vote, the Interstate Class Action Jurisdiction Act of 1999, H.R.
1875, 106th Cong. (1999). See H.R. REP. No. 106-320, at 12 (1999). On September 23,
1999, the House passed House Bill 1875 by a vote of 222-207, but the measure was not
considered on the Senate floor. See 106 CONG. REC. H8594 (daily ed. Sept. 23, 1999).
3The Class Action Fairness Act of 2003, H.R. 1115, 108th Cong. (2003), was intro-
duced on March 6, 2003 by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). See 149 CONG. REC.

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