Bills upcoming for a vote in the legislature.
Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act
This bill funds through FY2090 the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001.
Additionally, the bill modifies the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF):
Foundation of the Federal Bar Association Charter Amendments Act of 2017
(Sec. 2) This bill revises the federal charter for the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association:
Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017
(Sec. 2) This bill prohibits government officials from entering into or enforcing a settlement agreement on behalf of the United States (resolving a civil action, a plea agreement, a deferred prosecution agreement, or a nonprosecution agreement) that provides for a payment or a loan to any person or entity other than the United States. The bill provides exceptions to allow payments or loans that: (1) remedy actual harm (including to the environment) caused by the party making the payment or loan and suffered by the payee, or (2) constitute a payment for services rendered in connection with the case or a payment that a court may order for restitution to victims in certain criminal cases or other persons in plea agreements.
Amounts remaining after all claims have been satisfied must be repaid proportionally to each party who contributed to the original payment.
Government officials or agents who violate this prohibition may be removed from office or required to forfeit to the government any money they hold for such purposes to which they may otherwise be entitled.
Federal agencies must report annually for seven years to the Congressional Budget Office about the parties, funding sources, and distribution of funds for their settlement agreements permitted by the exceptions in this bill.
Agency inspectors general must report annually to Congress about any of their agency's settlement agreements that violate this bill.
Congressional Subpoena Compliance and Enforcement Act of 2017
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the federal judicial code to establish certain rules that apply in a civil action by the Senate, House of Representatives, or a congressional committee or subcommittee against an individual who receives, but fails to comply with, a congressional subpoena. Specifically, the rules:
(Sec. 3) Additionally, the bill amends the Revised Statutes of the United States to establish requirements for the recipient of a subpoena from a congressional committee or subcommittee, including:
Bankruptcy Judgeship Act of 2017
(Sec. 2) This bill reauthorizes 14 temporary bankruptcy judgeships in specified judicial districts in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Puerto Rico, Virginia, Nevada, and North Carolina.
(Sec. 3) It authorizes the appointment of four additional temporary bankruptcy judges in Delaware, Florida, and Michigan.
(Sec. 4) The bill amends the federal judicial code to increase the quarterly fee imposed on certain chapter 11 (reorganization) debtors. Specifically, if the balance in the U.S. Trustee System Fund is less than $200 million, then a debtor with total quarterly disbursements of $1 million or more must pay a quarterly fee equal to $250,000 or 1% of disbursements, whichever is less.
It also specifies that for FY2018-FY2022, 98% of the quarterly fees collected must be deposited as offsetting collections to the U.S. Trustee System Fund and 2% must be deposited in the general fund of the Treasury.(Sec. 5) This section amends the federal bankruptcy code to include an unsecured claim by a governmental unit (e.g., a tax claim by the Internal Revenue Service) resulting from the sale, transfer, exchange, or disposition of farming property in chapter 12 bankruptcy (family farmer or fisherman reorganization) proceedings. Such a claim that arises before a debtor's discharge, regardless of whether the claim is pre-petition or post-petition, must be treated as a pre-petition claim, is not entitled to priority status, must be provided for under the bankruptcy plan, and is dischargeable.
Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017
TITLE I--FAIRNESS IN CLASS ACTION LITIGATION
Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017
(Sec. 103) This bill amends the federal judicial code to prohibit federal courts from certifying class actions unless:
Class counsel must disclose: (1) whether any proposed class representatives or named plaintiffs are relatives of, present or former employees or clients of, or contractually related to class counsel; (2) the circumstances under which such representatives or plaintiffs agreed to be included in the complaint; and (3) any other class action in which such representatives and plaintiffs have a similar role.
The bill limits attorney's fees to a reasonable percentage of: (1) any payments received by class members, and (2) the value of any equitable relief.
No attorney's fees based on monetary relief may: (1) be paid until distribution of the monetary recovery to class members has been completed, or (2) exceed the total amount distributed to and received by all class members.
Class counsel must submit to the Federal Judicial Center and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts an accounting of the disbursement of funds paid by defendants in class action settlements. The Judicial Conference of the United States must use the accountings to prepare an annual summary for Congress and the public on how funds paid by defendants in class actions have been distributed to class members, class counsel, and other persons.
A court's order that certifies a class with respect to particular issues must include a determination that the entirety of the cause of action from which the particular issues arise satisfies all the class certification prerequisites.
Except in certain private securities actions, a stay of discovery is required during the pendency of preliminary motions in class action proceedings (motions to transfer, dismiss, strike, or dispose of class allegations) unless the court finds upon the motion of a party that particularized discovery is necessary to preserve evidence or to prevent undue prejudice.
Class counsel must disclose any person or entity who has a contingent right to receive compensation from any settlement, judgment, or relief obtained in the action.
Appeals courts must permit appeals from an order granting or denying class certification.
(Sec. 104) Federal courts must apply diversity of citizenship jurisdictional requirements to the claims of each plaintiff individually (as though each plaintiff were the sole plaintiff in the action) when deciding a motion to remand back to a state court a civil action in which: (1) two or more plaintiffs assert personal injury or wrongful death claims, (2) the action was removed from state court to federal court on the basis of a diversity of citizenship among the parties, and (3) a motion to remand is made on the ground that one or more defendants are citizens of the same state as one or more plaintiffs.
A court must sever, and remand to state court, claims that do not satisfy the diversity jurisdictional requirements unless: (1) a claim is so related to claims that satisfy the diversity requirements that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the Constitution, and (2) the plaintiff consents to the removal from state to federal court. The court must retain jurisdiction over claims that satisfy the diversity requirements.
(Sec. 105) In coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings for personal injury claims conducted by judges assigned by the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation, plaintiffs must: (1) submit medical records and other evidence for factual contentions regarding the alleged injury, the exposure to the risk that allegedly caused the injury, and the alleged cause of the injury; and (2) receive not less than 80% of any monetary recovery obtained for those claims, subject to the satisfaction of any liens for medical services provided to the plaintiff related to those claims. Trials may not be conducted in multidistrict litigation proceedings unless all parties to that civil action consent.
A federal appeals court having jurisdiction over the transferee district shall permit an appeal from an order issued in coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings if: (1) the order is applicable to one or more civil actions seeking redress for personal injury, and (2) an immediate appeal may materially advance the ultimate termination of one or more civil actions in the proceedings.
A federal appeals court may accept an appeal from an order issued in any coordinated or consolidated proceedings granting or denying a motion to remand a civil action to the state court from which it was removed if application is made within 14 days after the order is entered.
TITLE II--FURTHERING ASBESTOS CLAIM TRANSPARENCY
Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017
(Sec. 202) This title amends the federal bankruptcy code to require asbestos liability trusts to disclose information about claimant demands and payments from the trusts by: (1) filing with the bankruptcy court quarterly reports to be available on the public docket, (2) providing the information upon request to parties in actions concerning liability for asbestos exposure. (A bankruptcy court, in confirming a debtor's chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan, may prohibit entities seeking payment for alleged asbestos damages from taking legal action against a reorganized debtor if the court authorizes a debtor-funded trust to assume the debtor's asbestos liability and serve as asbestos-claimants' exclusive source of compensation.)
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The expanded summary of the House reported version is repeated here.)
Innocent Party Protection Act(Sec. 2) This bill amends procedures under which federal courts determine whether a case that was removed from a state court to a federal court on the basis of a diversity of citizenship among the parties may be remanded back to state court upon a motion opposed on fraudulent joinder grounds that: (1) one or more defendants are citizens of the same state as one or more plaintiffs, or (2) one or more defendants properly joined and served are citizens of the state in which the action was brought.
Joinder of such a defendant is fraudulent if the court finds:
In determining whether to grant or deny such a motion for remand, the court: (1) may permit pleadings to be amended; and (2) must consider the pleadings, affidavits, and other evidence submitted by the parties.
A federal court finding that all such defendants have been fraudulently joined must: (1) dismiss without prejudice the claims against those defendants, and (2) deny the motion for remand.
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The expanded summary of the House reported version is repeated here.)
Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the sanctions provisions in Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require the court to impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that has violated, or is responsible for the violation of, the rule with regard to representations to the court. Any sanction must compensate parties injured by the conduct in question.
The bill removes a provision that prohibits filing a motion for sanctions if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets.
Courts may impose additional sanctions, including striking the pleadings, dismissing the suit, nonmonetary directives, or penalty payments if warranted for effective deterrence.
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary has been expanded because action occurred on the measure.)
Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Equal Access to Justice Act and the federal judicial code to require the Administrative Conference of the United States to create and maintain online searchable databases with information about the attorney's fees and other expenses awarded to prevailing parties other than the United States in certain: (1) agency-conducted adversary adjudication proceedings, and (2) civil action court cases (excluding tort cases) or settlement agreements to which the United States is a party.
With respect to each award, the information must include: (1) the name of the agency involved, (2) the name of each party to whom the award was made, (3) a description of the claims, (4) the amount of the award, and (5) the basis for finding that the position of the agency concerned was not substantially justified. Under current law, the awards are made unless the position of the agency was substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust.