Senator Dale M. Volker Applauds President Bush For Curbing Lawsuit Abuse

William T. Stachowski

February 18, 2005

(Albany, NY) Senator Dale M. Volker (R-I-C, Depew) today applauded President Bush and the United State’s Congress for passing and enacting federal legislation that will curtail multimillion-dollar class action lawsuits against companies and ensure that people who are truly injured have the ability to seek and receive fair financial settlements.

"This is tremendous news for our residents, our taxpayers, and our business community," said Senator Dale M. Volker. "The New York State Legislature should refocus our energies in complementing this new federal law by addressing our antiquated Tort Laws, and bringing about fairness within our civil justice system. How many jobs and businesses have to leave New York State before action in addressing these debilitating laws are reformed or off the books? The current tort laws exacerbate increased health care and insurance premiums, instill higher costs for goods and services and play a role in destroying jobs and businesses."

This new federal law discourages class action lawsuits by having federal judges take them away from state courts. This is a tremendous victory for New Yorkers. Now, lawyers who have taken advantage of the state class action suit system by filing cases in places where they know they can win big-dollar verdicts while their clients get only small sums or coupons giving them discounts for products of the company they just sued; will be curtailed and discouraged. .

Under the legislation Bush signed, class-action suits seeking $5 million or more would be heard in state court only if the primary defendant and more than one-third of the plaintiffs are from the same state. But if fewer than one-third of the plaintiffs are from the same state as the primary defendant, and more than $5 million is at stake, the case would go to federal court.

The President’s bill also would limit lawyers' fees in settlements where plaintiffs get discounts on products instead of financial settlements. The measure links the fees to the coupon's redemption rate or the actual hours spent working on a case.