On January 8, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, by a 211-188 vote along party lines, H.R. 1927, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2016. The bill would amend U.S. Code, title 28, to preclude federal courts from certifying “any proposed class seeking monetary relief for personal injury or economic loss unless the party seeking to maintain such a class action affirmatively demonstrates that each proposed class member suffered the same type and scope of injury as the named class representative or representatives.” It would also require that class certification orders “include a determination, based on a rigorous analysis of the evidence presented” that such a demonstration had been made.
The proposed legislation was sponsored by Representative Rob Goodlatte or Virginia, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. The report from the Judiciary Committee makes clear that the bill’s purpose is to counteract recent federal court decisions certifying class actions in which putative class members sustained no injury. The bill would also amend Section 524(g) of the Bankruptcy Code to require asbestos trusts to file quarterly reports with the bankruptcy court, detailing claimants’ names and exposure history, and the basis for any payments made to them.
H.R. 1927 has been read twice in the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee for the Judiciary.