On Feb. 18, President Bush signed into law the Class ActionFairness Act, the first step in a wide-reaching tort reform agenda.The legislation, passed by sizable majorities in both the House andSenate, would limit what supporters call law-suit abuse by removingcertain class actions to federal court.

The insurance industry, which long has sought such a measure,responded with enthusiasm and relief. “Class action abuse is amajor contributor to the $246 billion that our legal system costsconsumers each and every year,” said Carl Parks, senior vicepresident, government affairs, for the Property Casualty InsurersAssociation of America.

Others, among them many consumer advocacy groups and somepoliticians and legal scholars, are dismayed by the bill's passage.The Consumer Federation of America asserted that the newlegislation is unfair to consumers and represents “a dangerouschange to our civil justice system.” House Democratic Leader NancyPelosi described the measure as “an injustice to consumers and awindfall for irresponsible corporations.”

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