Our Positions | Civil Justice Reform


Class actions were developed as a form of lawsuit in which a group of people claiming similar injuries or damages could sue the same organization, benefiting legitimately aggrieved individuals by allowing them to more easily seek efficient legal relief. Nowadays, however, many class actions are not being prosecuted to seek justice, but rather to essentially shakedown a defendant – hurting businesses and damaging the American economy.

Originally a vehicle for civil rights litigation, class actions quickly spread to such areas as product liability, consumer fraud, and employment discrimination cases. The sheer size of some classes is enormous; thousands, tens of thousands and, in some cases, millions of individual claimants have been brought together in single class actions. The large size of some classes, and the resulting large potential payouts, make these cases very risky for businesses. As a result, most business defendants seek to settle class actions before going to trial. Unfortunately, plaintiffs’ lawyers have exploited businesses’ understandable caution by filing many questionable or meritless class actions – all with the goal of scaring businesses into large settlements.

These large settlements provide highly lucrative fee awards to plaintiffs' lawyers. Meanwhile their purported "clients," the class members, must fill out paperwork to obtain small, often token, compensation. Moreover, because participation in these settlements is often quite meager, much of the fund remains unclaimed. The end result is that the supposed beneficiaries of class actions rarely obtain meaningful benefits.

Notwithstanding U.S. Supreme Court rulings tightening the requirements for class certification, certain courts of appeals have been less rigorous than other circuits in certifying class actions. Specifically, a growing chorus of federal courts is certifying classes consisting of plaintiffs who have not been injured in the same way as the purported class representative.

NAMIC Position

NAMIC supports commonsense reforms to the civil justice system that will restore balance and fairness in liability issues.

NAMIC opposes unnecessary expansion of liability in statutes and court decisions.

Missouri: Civil Justice Reform Passes Senate

March 4, 2020 NAMIC-supported SB 591, which reforms the state’s punitive damages and merchandising practices laws, passed the Senate 21-9 on March 2. It now heads to the House of Representatives where it is expected to receive a favorable... Read more

NAMIC to Urge Courts to Move Forward With Rules on Expert Testimony

February 24, 2020 NAMIC is working on recommendations to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts on an amendment to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 to clarify the responsibility of a proponent offering expert testimony to demonstrate the reliability and factual Read more

Federal Affairs Committee Examines Priorities for NAMIC on Capitol Hill

February 3, 2020 Members of NAMIC’s Federal Affairs Committee met Jan. 28 in Washington, D.C., for their annual kickoff meeting to discuss issues currently facing the property/casualty insurance industry. The committee helps guide development of policy principles and... Read more

NAMIC-Opposed Arbitration Bill Passes House

September 20, 2019 Legislation that would effectively outlaw arbitration provisions in private contracts was passed in the House Sept. 20 in a largely party-line vote. Federal law has protected arbitration as a means of resolving disputes between... Read more

NAMIC Participates in Joint Trades Letter Opposing FAIR Act

September 16, 2019 NAMIC signed onto a letter opposing H.R.1423 and S.610, the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act on Sept. 9, urging members of congress to do the same. The legislation would effectively outlaw arbitration provisions in private contracts. Read more

Contacts

Jon Bergner
Assistant Vice President – Public Policy and Federal Affairs

202.580.6751

  Jon