Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to House without amendment (03/07/2017)

(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary has been expanded because action occurred on the measure.)

Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017

(Sec. 3) This bill amends the federal judicial code to prohibit federal courts from certifying class actions unless:

  • in a class action seeking monetary relief for personal injury or economic loss, each proposed class member suffered the same type and scope of injury as the named class representatives;
  • no class representatives or named plaintiffs are relatives of, present or former employees or clients of, or contractually related to class counsel; and
  • in a class action seeking monetary relief, the party seeking to maintain the class action demonstrates a reliable and administratively feasible mechanism for the court to determine whether putative class members fall within the class definition and for the distribution of any monetary relief directly to a substantial majority of class members.

The bill limits attorney's fees to a reasonable percentage of: (1) any payments received by class members, and (2) the value of any equitable relief.

No attorney's fees based on monetary relief may: (1) be paid until distribution of the monetary recovery to class members has been completed, or (2) exceed the total amount distributed to and received by all class members.

Class counsel must submit to the Federal Judicial Center and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts an accounting of the disbursement of funds paid by defendants in class action settlements. The Judicial Conference of the United States must use the accountings to prepare an annual summary for Congress and the public on how funds paid by defendants in class actions have been distributed to class members, class counsel, and other persons.

A court's order that certifies a class with respect to particular issues must include a determination that the entirety of the cause of action from which the particular issues arise satisfies all the class certification prerequisites.

A stay of discovery is required during the pendency of preliminary motions in class action proceedings (motions to transfer, dismiss, strike, or dispose of class allegations) unless the court finds upon the motion of a party that particularized discovery is necessary to preserve evidence or to prevent undue prejudice.

Class counsel must disclose any person or entity who has a contingent right to receive compensation from any settlement, judgment, or relief obtained in the action.

Appeals courts must permit appeals from an order granting or denying class certification.

(Sec. 4) Federal courts must apply diversity of citizenship jurisdictional requirements to the claims of each plaintiff individually (as though each plaintiff were the sole plaintiff in the action) when deciding a motion to remand back to a state court a civil action in which: (1) two or more plaintiffs assert personal injury or wrongful death claims, (2) the action was removed from state court to federal court on the basis of a diversity of citizenship among the parties, and (3) a motion to remand is made on the ground that one or more defendants are citizens of the same state as one or more plaintiffs.

A court must: (1) sever, and remand to state court, claims that do not satisfy the jurisdictional requirements; and (2) retain jurisdiction over claims that satisfy the diversity requirements.

(Sec. 5) In coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings for personal injury claims conducted by judges assigned by the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation, plaintiffs must: (1) submit medical records and other evidence for factual contentions regarding the alleged injury, the exposure to the risk that allegedly caused the injury, and the alleged cause of the injury; and (2) receive not less than 80% of any monetary recovery. Trials may not be conducted in multidistrict litigation proceedings unless all parties consent to the specific case sought to be tried.