By Lisa Bloomquist. This article is reprinted from Collective Evolution.
H.R. 985, the 2017 Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, aims to put more obstacles in the way of plaintiffs/victims who seek justice.
This justice-reform bill is a gift to the pharmaceutical industry, and other big corporations that hurt citizens (like big banks, big agriculture, big chemical, big oil etc.) from Congress men and women who receive millions of dollars in donations from those industries.
One of the most potentially damaging aspects of H.R. 985 is a provision that states that each plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit must “affirmatively demonstrate” that they “suffered the same type and scope of injury as the named class representative.” This means that all plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit must have exactly the same injury. This provision will keep a large number of pharmaceutical class-action lawsuits from moving forward, and will rob the people who could otherwise be involved in a class-action lawsuit of justice.
How H.R. 985 could hurt people
Here is an example of how this provision in H.R. 985 could hurt people: The warning labels for fluoroquinolone antibiotics, including Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox, have recently been updated to note that permanent peripheral neuropathy is a potential effect of those drugs. This opened the door to lawsuits, and many law firms are taking cases for those suffering from peripheral neuropathy caused by fluoroquinolones.
Peripheral neuropathy is a broad diagnosis though, and it presents in many ways. Some people with peripheral neuropathy may have pain that is debilitating, while others may have twitching muscles, others may experience numbness, others may have reduced balance or coordination, and others may have autonomic nervous system dysfunction that causes loss of digestive motility.
H.R. 985 could make it so that those plaintiffs cannot join together in a class-action lawsuit because their symptoms present differently, and, as noted above, without the possibility of a class-action lawsuit, there is no possibility for justice for many victims of pharmaceutical industry crimes.
In “House Judiciary Committee Passes H.R. 985: Fairness in Class Action Litigation” the following example is given to illustrate how this provision could hurt those trying to sue a bank: “So if your bank steals a $5 overdraft fee, and $10 from your neighbor, a class action could be dismissed because your injuries were different. Even if you file a lawsuit and get your $5 back, your friend would not.”
This provision of H.B. 985 would keep cases like that of the people of Hinkley, California versus Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), that was featured in the movie Erin Brockovich, from moving forward. The people of Hinkley “suffered cancers, miscarriages and digestive and skin disorders as a result of the company (PG&E) dumping contaminated waste into ponds that seeped into the town’s drinking water.” If they weren’t allowed to join together in a class-action lawsuit because they didn’t have the “same type and scope of injury as the named class representative,” they wouldn’t be able to gain justice.
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