Thursday, February 10, 2005

Senate OKs Limit on Class Action Lawsuits


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate approved a measure to help shield businesses from major class action lawsuits on Thursday, giving President Bush the first legislative victory of his second term.

Under the legislation, long sought by big business, large multistate class action lawsuits like the ones that have been brought against tobacco companies could no longer be heard in small state courts. Such courts have handed out multimillion-dollar verdicts.

Instead, the cases would be heard by federal judges, who have not proven as open to those type of lawsuits.

The Senate passed the bill 72-26. The House is expected to take it up next week and send it to President Bush for his signature.

"The Senate has taken a critical step toward granting families, consumers and employers relief from the heavy burden of lawsuit abuse," said Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Now it's time for the House to finish the job and take back our civil justice system from plaintiffs' lawyers seeking jackpot justice."

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