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House Approves Bill on Class-Action Suits

February 18, 2005

WASHINGTON —- The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that puts sharp limits on class-action lawsuits a week after the Senate also passed it. Congress will now send the bill to the president for his signature.

The measure was approved 279 to 149 in the House and President Bush said he would sign it into law to "help protect people who are wrongfully harmed while reducing the frivolous lawsuits that clog our courts, hurt the economy, cost jobs and burden American businesses," USA Today reported.

Opponents said the measure would create new barriers to compensation for consumers wronged by fraud or faulty products.

Under the bill, large class-action lawsuits — those where potential damages exceed $5 million and the plaintiffs are geographically dispersed — would be directed from state courts to federal courts.

Proponents said this would end the practice of “forum shopping” — the quest by plaintiffs’ lawyers to find the most friendly and generous jurisdictions in which to file their cases, the paper reported.

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