H.R. 985 would amend the federal judicial code to update the standards by which a court determines whether a case meets the requirements to be heard as a class-action suit. The bill also would require the Judicial Conference of the United States to submit an annual report to the Congress on payments from class-action settlements. Finally, the bill would amend the procedures that federal courts use when considering certain multi-plaintiff claims and multi-district litigation proceedings.
The effect that H.R. 985 would have on litigation strategy is uncertain and could lead to an increase or decrease in the number of cases brought to federal courts. Based on an analysis of information from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) and research regarding class-actions suits, CBO estimates that imposing new requirements on the courts for the consideration of class-action cases would cost $2 million over the 2018-2022 period; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Those additional administrative expenses to determine whether cases qualify to be considered as class-action suits would be incurred whether or not overall caseloads increased or decreased under the bill.
Under the bill, the Judicial Conference would be required to submit to the Congress an annual report summarizing the disbursement of settlement payments to class members for all ongoing class-action settlements. Based on an analysis of information from the AOUSC on the amount of work necessary to analyze the relevant data and complete the report, CBO estimates that implementing this requirement would cost less than $500,000 over the 2018-2022 period.