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Tuesday February 8

Class Action Legislation Passes U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

Class Action legislation, S.B. 5, has passed the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 13-5. It was reintroduced by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and has 25 co-sponsors.

The measure calls for moving many class-action lawsuits from state courts to federal courts when the amount in dispute exceeds $5 million and when the defendant and the plaintiff live in different states.

The bill was proposed in the 108th Congress but failed due to unrelated amendments. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee without any amendments.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, has said he plans to support a contentious amendment to be offered by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., when the bill goes before the Senate floor for consideration. The Bingaman Amendment would give federal judges guidance for certifying class-action lawsuits based on consumer state laws.

Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., U.S. Senate majority leader, said he will bring the bill to the Senate floor the week of Feb. 7.

Stanton Anderson, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president, said, "Our request for all those who support it is to support it as is." He added, "We don't need to tinker with it to make it stronger or weaker."

"The Automotive Service Association (ASA) supports class action legislation. ASA believes this legislation will create a healthier environment for small businesses," said Bob Redding, ASA's Washington, D.C., representative. "We encourage repairers to go to the ASA legislative Website and contact their U.S. senators asking them to support this bill when it comes to the Senate floor next week."

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