Mr. FARENTHOLD. Madam Chair, I oppose this amendment for the same reason that I have opposed almost every amendment so far in that it exempts a certain class from the bill that is designed to help those who are most injured.
First, the base bill only applies to classes that are seeking monetary relief for personal injury or economic loss. Insofar as education-related cases do not seek monetary damages, they are completely unaffected by the bill and would proceed just as they do today. If money damages are being sought, then, of course, they should be subject to the procedures in this bill.
The purpose of a class action is to provide a fair means of evaluating like claims, not to provide a means of artificially inflating the size of a class to extort a larger settlement. The other side is continually saying that these groups or classes must be exactly the same. The language is of the same scope. The bill is designed to keep from grossly inflating the size of a class.
The students of the college that the gentlewoman is citing were all in the same class and would appear to be similarly injured. I cannot predict what a court would do. I believe, under this bill, even without the gentlewoman's amendment, they would continue to be certified as a class because the scope of their injuries would be the same.
It is not designed to make it exact. It is the same scope. And that is where we are trying to go. Claimants who are seeking monetary relief need to be grouped in classes in which the most injured receive the most compensation, but it doesn't have to be the exact same injury.
I don't see any need for this amendment. I think it actually would unfairly hurt those folks from the college because they would not be subject to the protections of this bill in that an attorney could inflate the class to include folks, let's say, who didn't have as many damages and who were from other colleges. I can think of a wide variety of hypotheticals here.
The idea behind this bill is, regardless of the class, if you are the most injured, you should be the most compensated, and there is a lot of area in which the judges can determine what the scope of those injuries is.
I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.
Madam Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Maxine Waters).
The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.
Ms. MOORE. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Wisconsin will be postponed.
AMENDMENT NO. 6 OFFERED BY MS.
The CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 6 printed in House Report 114-389.
Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Line 10 on the first page, strike ``and scope''.
Line 8 on the first page, strike ``or economic loss''.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 581, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Johnson) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman.
Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Madam Chair, my amendment would remove the scope and economic loss language from the bill.
Think of yourself as driving down a two-lane road, doing 55 miles an hour. It is nighttime or it could be daytime. Suddenly, you lose control of your car because your ignition switch cuts off the car and you lose control of your power steering and your brakes. There is an 18-wheeler coming at you and you have no time to react. There is a crash and you, as the driver, are killed in the unfortunate accident.
Let's assume that that has happened in numerous other cases. Perhaps the injuries were not as bad as a death. Perhaps someone just suffered a closed-head injury, a concussion, or perhaps a broken arm in the accident. Let's assume that both of those cars were made by the same manufacturer, had the same ignition switch, and a defect in that ignition switch caused the crashes.
Now there are numbers of claimants who are wanting to get together and file a class action lawsuit because they know that the large company has an army of lawyers, all of whom will go to court against a single plaintiff to defeat the claim. These briefcase-toting, loafer-wearing, silk-stocking lawyers, who are getting paid $900 an hour go to court, have helped the corporation hide the existence of the defect for many years, and there have been so many accidents that have occurred that singular
plaintiffs who aggregate their claims and come together against that corporation have a better shot at winning the case than has just a single plaintiff who is going against an army of corporate lawyers.
This legislation changes the rules. It tilts the scales in favor of the company by making the plaintiffs prove that [Page: H196]
they have suffered the same type and scope of injury as has the named class representative, and that is despite there being one common question of law in fact that permeates all of the cases. Why shouldn't they be allowed to bring that case together?
This amendment would remove the scope and economic loss language of the bill so that it would not impede the ability of claimants to bring a class action lawsuit against a corporate wrongdoer. I would ask my colleagues to support my amendment.
Madam Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. FARENTHOLD. Madam Chair, this amendment should be defeated because it essentially guts the bill.
The bill requires that class action members share the same scope of injury, which is intended to prevent the certification of grossly overbroad class action lawsuits that include members with wildly varying injuries.
The ordinary meaning of scope in the dictionary is the range of a relevant subject. Judges are certainly capable of determining the relevant range of injuries that would make class members suitably typical of one another.
The base bill uses the word ``scope'' to make clear that all class members do not need to have suffered the same type of injury to the exact same extent, but they still must demonstrate they have suffered the same range of injuries as determined by the court.
This amendment also strikes the term ``economic loss'' from the bill. The base bill defines the scope of class actions covered by the bill as those involving claims for monetary relief for personal injury or economic loss. Economic loss is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as ``a monetary loss, such as lost wages or lost profits.'' In a products liability suit, the economic loss includes the cost of repair or replacement of defective property as well as commercial loss for the property's inadequate
value and consequential loss of profits or use.
These sorts of claims should also be covered under the bill because they are claims for monetary relief. Those with significantly greater claims for such relief should have their own day in court and the chance to obtain the most compensation for their economic loss.
I am urging my colleagues to reject this gutting amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.