June 3, 2004 by Canadian Underwriter
Insurers are unconcerned by the delay of voting on class action reform by the U.S. senate. Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee had tried to force cloture on the bill, the “Class Action Fairness Act”, but agreed to delay dealing with class action so that the senate could work on a defense authorization bill. Frist was promised class action reform would be dealt with immediately following completion of the defense bill, thus avoiding a cloture vote.
“This is simply a delay,” says David Winston, senior vice president of federal affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC). “NAMIC looks forward to the senate’s passage of class action reform following its work on the defense authorization bill.
The legislation would, amongst other things, consolidate multi-state class actions in federal court. It also provides a consumer’s bill of rights to allow for judicial review of non-monetary settlements. This is a response to concerns over settlements in which plaintiffs’ lawyers were paid millions of dollars, but class members received coupons or other non-monetary compensation.