Bipartisan legislation that would allow large class-action lawsuits to be heard in federal, rather than state, courts has been introduced in the House of Representatives with strong support from insurance and business groups.
The legislation is sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rick Boucher, D-VA., and has numerous other co-sponsors.
Called the Class Action Fairness Act of 2001, the legislation would establish federal court jurisdiction over any class action in which the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds $2 million and any member of the plaintiff class is a citizen of a different state than any defendant.
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By contrast, current law establishes federal jurisdiction only when every member of the plaintiff class is a citizen of a different state from every defendant and each member of the class is seeking damages of more than $75,000.
However, the new rules established by the bill would not apply to certain limited situations. These include:
(1) where the substantial majority of members of the plaintiff class and the primary defendants are citizens of the same state in which the action was originally filed and the claims will be governed primarily by the laws of that state;
(2) the primary defendants are states, state officials or other government entities against whom a federal court may not be able to order relief; or