Bush signs law curbing class action lawsuits
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Bush Signs Law Curbing Class-Action Lawsuits
Fri Feb 18, 2005 11:54 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Friday signed into law legislation to curb class-action lawsuits, part of a broader overhaul of the legal system he hopes to achieve in his second term.
It was his first major legislative victory of his second term.
The measure, long sought by U.S. businesses, would shift most class-action lawsuits from state courts to federal courts, which historically have been less friendly to such cases.
Bush said in a White House East Room signing ceremony that the law would restore "common sense and balance to America's legal system."
"The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 marks a critical step toward ending the lawsuit culture in our country," Bush said.
Class-action cases allow plaintiffs to combine claims into one suit against a common defendant. Bush has sought to restrain class-action suits as part of his drive to overhaul the civil justice system.
Backers say the changes are needed to stop aggressive trial lawyers from seeking out friendly state courts willing to approve large settlements against out-of-state businesses.
But opponents said overworked federal courts will not take many consumer, environmental and civil rights cases filed under state laws, making it harder for ordinary citizens to hold big companies to account.