class actions; civil litigation; FICALA


The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 (FICALA) was introduced in Congress less than three weeks after Donald Trump took office as President. Supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and opposed by consumer advocates and civil rights groups, the bill passed the House of Representatives one month after its introduction on a party-line vote of 220 to 201, with 220 Republicans and zero Democrats voting in favor. FICALA stalled in the Senate and, as of this writing, does not appear to be moving toward passage in its current form. But reform ideas have a way of reappearing, particularly when driven by a constituency with much at stake and plenty of resources to push an agenda. Corporations that face mass litigation are a powerful voice for change, and class actions and multidistrict litigation are prime targets. Moreover, the quick vote in the House shows that there is at least some political appetite for the proposed reforms. In anticipation of the reincarnation of the bill in some form, it is worth exploring whether it contains any good ideas.