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Public Citizen Urges Senators to Reject House Legislation That Erodes Americans’ Ability to Seek Justice Through the Courts

Nov. 8, 2017

Public Citizen Urges Senators to Reject House Legislation That Erodes Americans’ Ability to Seek Justice Through the Courts

Public Citizen Submits Testimony to Senate Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on several proposals to slam the courthouse door on Americans is a blatant attempt by corporate interests to create a problem where none exists, Public Citizen said today.

This year, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed seven bills that, taken together, represent a concerted effort to erode the ability of Americans, including business owners, to seek justice for corporate wrongdoing through the courts. The committee and witnesses may discuss any of these bills and others that have yet to pass the House.

“These bills are not tailored to correct any real problems with our court system; they are intended to limit consumers’ ability to have their day in court. They are unnecessary intrusions into the province of the federal courts, part of a concerted campaign to limit Americans’ ability to seek justice in a court of law, and a grave threat to our civil justice system,” said Remington A. Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights at Public Citizen, in testimony submitted to the committee.

Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s vice president of legislative affairs, added, “Small businesses frequently rely on our civil justice system to take on larger corporations, which is critical to leveling the playing field for Main Street businesses. If passed, these bills would tip the scales once again in favor of massive corporations over mom and pop stores that are the engine of our economy.”

Notably, although lawmakers said the hearing on these bills was to focus on the impact of lawsuits on small businesses, small businesses do not share this concern. In 2016, members of the National Federal of Independent Business were asked to rank the importance of 75 issues. The issue of the “cost and frequency of lawsuits/threatened lawsuits” ranked 68. Similarly, a survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that in a poll of 1,000 small businesses, the threat of lawsuits was never mentioned.

In a reprise performance, the Monopoly Man will be at the hearing to highlight how these bills would do nothing to protect hardworking Americans but would be a boon to big corporations by making it significantly more difficult to hold them responsible for fraud or rip-offs against customers.

Public Citizen opposes all of the bills that passed the House and will continue to oppose any versions of them that are taken up by the Senate, as well as other bills that limit the ability of Americans to have their day in court.