February 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Dominican Republic: Politics: Congress: Legislation: White House: Bush thanks Dodd for Class-Action Fairness Act of 2005

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Dominican Republic: RPCV Chris Dodd (Dominican Republic) : RPCV Chris Dodd: Archived Stories: February 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Dominican Republic: Politics: Congress: Legislation: White House: Bush thanks Dodd for Class-Action Fairness Act of 2005

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Bush thanks Dodd for Class-Action Fairness Act of 2005

Bush thanks Dodd for  Class-Action Fairness Act of 2005

Bush thanks Dodd for Class-Action Fairness Act of 2005

President Signs Class-Action Fairness Act of 2005

The East Room

Caption: resident George W. Bush signs S. 5, the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, during a ceremony in the East Room, Friday, Feb. 18, 2005. Senator Dodd is at right

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks for coming. (Applause.) Please be seated. Thank you for coming. Thanks for the warm welcome. Welcome to the people's house. Glad you're here for the first bill signing ceremony of 2005. (Applause.)

The bill I'm about to sign is a model of effective, bipartisan legislation. By working together over several years, we have agreed on a practical way to begin restoring common sense and balance to America's legal system. The Class-Action Fairness Act of 2005 marks a critical step toward ending the lawsuit culture in our country. The bill will ease the needless burden of litigation on every American worker, business, and family. By beginning the important work of legal reform, we are meeting our duty to solve problems now, and not to pass them on to future generations.

President George W. Bush signs S. 5, the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, during a ceremony in the East Room, Friday, Feb. 18, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper. I appreciate so very much the leadership that Senator Frist and Senator McConnell have shown on this bill in the United States Senate. I want to thank Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Tom Carper and Senator Craig Thomas, as well for working in a bipartisan fashion to get this good bill to my desk.

I appreciate Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, as well as Congressman Lamar Smith, joining us today. I particularly want to pay tribute to the bill sponsors -- Senator Grassley and Senator Kohl, as well as Congressman Bob Goodlatte and Congressman Rick Boucher, who are with us here today.

Congress showed what is possible when we set aside partisan differences and focus on what's doing right for Congress, and you all are to be -- I mean, for the country -- and you're to be credited for your good work. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

I welcome our new Attorney General -- oh, right there. (Laughter.) How quickly they forget in Washington. (Laughter.) Al Gonzales. Proud you're up here, Al. Hector Barreto, the SBA. Thank you, all the business leaders, community leaders, consumer groups who care about this issue. Thanks for your hard work. Thanks for being patient. Thanks for not becoming discouraged. And thanks for witnessing the fruits of your labor as I sign this bill.

Class-actions can serve a valuable purpose in our legal system. They allow numerous victims of the same wrong-doing to merge their claims into a single lawsuit. When used properly, class-actions make the legal system more efficient and help guarantee that injured people receive proper compensation. That is an important principle of justice. So the bill I sign today maintains every victim's right to seek justice, and ensures that wrong-doers are held to account.

Class-actions can also be manipulated for personal gain. Lawyers who represent plaintiffs from multiple states can shop around for the state court where they expect to win the most money. A few weeks ago, I visited Madison County, Illinois, where juries have earned a reputation for awarding large verdicts. The number of class-actions filed in Madison County has gone from two in 1998 to 82 in 2004 -- even though the vast majority of the defendants named in those suits are not from Madison County. Trial lawyers have already filed 24 class-actions in Madison County this year. We're in February. (Laughter.) Including 20 in the past week -- after Congress made it clear their chance to exploit the class-action system would soon be gone.

President George W. Bush discusses the Class Action Fairness Act of 2004 during a ceremony in the East Room before signing the act into law, Friday, Feb. 18, 2005. White House photo by Eric Draper. Before today, trial lawyers were able to drag defendants from all over the country into sympathetic local courts, even if those businesses have done nothing wrong. Many businesses decided it was cheaper to settle the lawsuits, rather than risk a massive jury award. In many cases, lawyers went home with huge pay-outs, while the plaintiffs ended up with coupons worth only a few dollars. By the time the settlement in at least one case was finished, plaintiffs actually owed their lawyers money.

A newspaper editorial called the class-action system "an extortion racket that only Congress can fix." This bill helps fix the system. Congress has done its duty, and I'm proud to sign it into law.

Over the past few years I've met people from all over the country who know the importance of class-action reform firsthand, and three of them are with us today. Marylou Rigat lives in Connecticut, yet a class-action involving her faulty roof was resolved by a judge in Alabama. The award covered only a fraction of the cost of new shingles, but that wasn't Marylou's biggest problem. She had no idea she was part of the class-action in the first place, and no one contacted her about her award. She only learned by accident when she called the company about her warranty. And then she found out there was nothing more she could do.

Hilda Bankston is with us. And her late husband used to own a drugstore in Fayette, Mississippi. Their business was doing well, until the store got swept up in massive litigation just because it dispensed prescription drugs for a certain drug -- prescriptions for a certain drug. She had to sell the pharmacy six years ago. But she's still getting dragged into court, again and again. Here's what she said: "My husband and I lived the American Dream until we were caught up in what has become an American nightmare."

Alita Ditkowsky is with us. She was part of a class-action against a company that made faulty televisions. When the case was settled in Madison County, Illinois, Alita's lawyer took home a big check while she got a $50 rebate on another TV, built by the same company that had ruined the first TV. (Laughter.) Here's what she said: "I'm still left with a broken TV." (Laughter.) "He got $22 million. Where's the justice in this?"

I want to thank you all for letting me use your stories, not only here, but during different events we've had in highlighting the need for class-action reform, because this act will help ensure justice by making two essential reforms. First, it moves most large, interstate class-actions into federal courts. This will prevent trial lawyers from shopping around for friendly local venues. The bill will keep out-of-state businesses, workers, and shareholders from being dragged before unfriendly local juries, or forced into unfair settlements. And that's good for our system, and it's good for our economy.

Second, the bill provides new safeguards to ensure that plaintiffs and class-action lawsuits are treated fairly. The bill requires judges to consider the real monetary value of coupons and discounts, so that victims can count on true compensation for their injuries. It demands settlements and rulings to be explained in plain English, so that class members understand their full rights.

These are needed reforms. It's an important piece of legislation. It shows we're making important progress toward a better legal system.

There's more to do. Small business owners across America fear that one junk lawsuit could force them to close their doors for good. Medical liability lawsuits are driving up the cost for doctors and patients and entrepreneurs around the country. Asbestos litigation alone has led to the bankruptcy of dozens of companies and cost tens of thousands of jobs, even though many asbestos claims are filed on behalf of people who aren't actually sick.

Overall, junk lawsuits have driven the total cost of America's tort system to more than $240 billion a year, greater than any other major industrialized nation. It creates a needless disadvantage for America's workers and businesses in a global economy, imposes unfair costs on job creators, and raises prices to consumers.

We have a responsibility to confront frivolous litigation head on. I will continue working with Congress to pass meaningful legal reforms, starting with reform in our asbestos and medical liability systems.

Once again, I want to thank you all for the hard work on this important legislation. Class-action reform will help keep America the best place in the world to do business. It will help ensure justice for our citizens, and I'm confident that this bill will be the first of many bipartisan achievements in the year 2005.

And now it is my honor to sign the Class-Action Fairness law. (Applause.)

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.

Make a call for the Peace Corps Date: February 19 2005 No: 453 Make a call for the Peace Corps
PCOL is a strong supporter of the NPCA's National Day of Action and encourages every RPCV to spend ten minutes on Tuesday, March 1 making a call to your Representatives and ask them to support President Bush's budget proposal of $345 Million to expand the Peace Corps. Take our Poll: Click here to take our poll. We'll send out a reminder and have more details early next week.
Peace Corps Calendar:Tempest in a Teapot? Date: February 17 2005 No: 445 Peace Corps Calendar:Tempest in a Teapot?
Bulgarian writer Ognyan Georgiev has written a story which has made the front page of the newspaper "Telegraf" criticizing the photo selection for his country in the 2005 "Peace Corps Calendar" published by RPCVs of Madison, Wisconsin. RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow, who submitted the photograph for the calendar, has published her reply. Read the stories and leave your comments.

February 19, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 19 2005 No: 449 February 19, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
NPCA Board positions are open for nomination 17 Feb
Mike Tidwell on trial for climate action protest 17 Feb
Katie Dyer is co-owner of Cadeaux du Monde 16 Feb
Cyclone misses Tonga and Samoa PCVs 16 Feb
Phil Hardberger in debate for Mayor of San Antonio 16 Feb
Edmund Hull is Princeton Diplomat-In-Residence 16 Feb
Bruce Greenlee is longtime friend of Latino community 15 Feb
Mike Honda new vice chairman at DNC 15 Feb
Jospeh Opala documents slave crossing from Sierra Leone 14 Feb
Dear Dr. Brothers: Aren't PCVs Hippies? 14 Feb
Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund 14 Feb
Stanley Levine draws Marine and Peace Corps similarities 14 Feb
Speaking Out: JFK envisioned millions of RPCVs 13 Feb
Chris Aquino visits mother's homeland of Vietnam 12 Feb
Is PCOL blocking users from posting messages? 12 Feb
JFK Library opens Sargent Shriver Collection 1 Feb
RPCV responds to Bulgaria Calendar concerns 28 Jan

WWII participants became RPCVs Date: February 13 2005 No: 442 WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.
Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: White House

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Dominican Republic; Politics; Congress; Legislation



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