Oct. 22, 2003
Consumers Win in Senate Vote on Class Action
Statement of Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen
We are relieved that enough Senate lawmakers today saw the class action bill for what it was – a boon to big business but a dreadful measure for consumers, who would have found significant roadblocks when attempting to have their day in court. The opponents of this anti-consumer bill were subjected to incredible pressure from the biggest business lobbies in the nation as well as the White House. We commend them for stopping a bill that would have closed the courthouse door on millions of consumers.
The bill would have given corporate defendants an undue advantage in fighting legitimate lawsuits involving consumer fraud and unfair workplace practices. Today’s narrow vote means that consumers and workers will retain strong protections against the growing abuses they face.
This rebuke to the business lobby came because it was unwilling to negotiate in good faith. This failure gave lie to the contention that the bill was a bipartisan effort to improve the legal system. A fair compromise was proposed by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) that would have benefited both businesses and consumers, and the bill’s proponents were foolish to spurn it.