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February 18, 2005
House OKs Class-Action Bill, Bush Signs

Before approving legislation that would move many class-action lawsuits to federal courts, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a measure that would have exempted civil rights and wage lawsuits from the legislation, Reuters reports.

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The House voted 279-149 to approve legislation that would restrict class-action lawsuits to federal courts if the lawsuits involve more than $5 million in claims and fewer than one-third of the plaintiffs are from the same state as the primary defendant.

Experts say federal courts have more restrictions on the cases they can hear involving laws from multiple states.

The Senate has already approved the class-action measure and President Bush signed the legislation into law today.

The legislation has no effect on pending cases.

Democrats tried to exclude civil rights and wage cases from the legislation, but their effort failed to win enough support for approval.

Supporters of the approved class-action legislation say it will prevent lawyers from "shopping" cases to states with courts most friendly to their lawsuits, the news service notes. Opponents say the legislation would hurt consumers and federal courts are already overworked.

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