March 2017
Senate to Debate Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act

A piece of federal legislation reflects a significant effort by Congress to curb perceived abuses of the federal class action procedure.1

The legislation is the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 – on March 9 the House of Representatives passed the proposal as H.R. 985 and sent the Bill to the Senate for further consideration.

The Bill proposes substantial changes to the Class Action Fairness Act passed in 2005. Among other things, it would make certifying classes more difficult by requiring:
  • similarity of injury,
  • ensuring ascertainment of potential class members,
  • changing the timing and amount of attorneys’ fees,
  • instituting stays of discovery while dispositive motions are pending,
  • permitting appeals of certification decisions as of right,
  • and addressing conflicts of interest before granting certification.
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1 The House also passed and sent to the Senate two other reform measures: H.R. 725 (targeting fraudulent joinder of parties) and H.R. 720 (changing Rule 11 by eliminating the “safe harbor” provision and requiring judges to impose sanctions for meritless civil claims filed in federal court).