Insurers Distressed By Senate Class Action Vote

By Steven Brostoff, Washington Editor

NU Online News Service, Oct. 23, 9:22 a.m. EDT, Washington?The insurance industry is expressing disappointment with a Senate vote yesterday that at least temporarily sidetracks long sought class action reform legislation.

Supporters of the legislation fell just one vote short of the 60 required to invoke cloture on the class action reform bill. This means that opponents of the measure will be able to filibuster it should it be brought up for debate.

The failure to invoke cloture will force supporters of class action reform to further compromise the legislation in order to get the needed vote. The final vote on cloture was 59 for and 39 against.

Melissa Shelk, vice president of federal affairs for the Washington-based American Insurance Association, said that it is “tremendously disappointing” that class action reform could not go forward despite strong bipartisan support.

She urged the opponents of the legislation to reconsider their votes.

Anne Sittmann, a representative of the Des Plaines, Ill.-based National Association of Independent Insurers, said NAII is very disappointed with the vote. She said NAII hopes the Senate leadership will meet as soon as possible to further discuss and negotiate in order to obtain the needed vote.

Under class action reform, federal courts would be assigned jurisdiction over major national class action lawsuits subject to certain conditions.

In addition, the legislation creates a class action bill of rights aimed at protecting the interests of class members.