HBA-MSH H.B. 2072 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2072 By: Junell Civil Practices 3/27/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Class action lawsuits began as a way to increase the efficiency of the judicial system by allowing the adjudication of a common claim shared by numerous parties. Some have complained that the current system of class action suits is easily abused. In a broad class designation, it is possible that a person with a questionable claim may receive payment for damages depriving payment to a truly injured person. The venue of a class action may also put one of the litigants at a disadvantage by imposing large travel costs. House Bill 2072 authorizes the Supreme Court of Texas to make rules relating to class actions and sets forth provisions relating to review of civil judgments, interlocutory appeals, and class actions involving the jurisdiction of a state agency. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Supreme Court of Texas in SECTION 3 (Section 22.015, Government Code) of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 2072 amends the Government Code to prohibit the issuance of a review of a civil judgment of a court of appeals in certain civil cases, unless the justices of the courts of appeals disagree on a question of law material to the decision or in which one of the courts of appeals holds differently from a prior decision of another court of appeals or of the supreme court, in which case the prohibition on review does not deprive the supreme court of jurisdiction of a civil case brought to the court of appeals from an appealable judgment of a trial court. The bill provides that a review is allowed in the supreme court for an appeal from an interlocutory order that certifies or refuses to certify a class in a suit or denies a motion for summary judgment that is based in whole or in part upon a claim against or defense of free speech (Sec. 22.225). The bill authorizes the supreme court by rule to authorize an action to be maintained as a class action only for settlement purposes even if the action does not satisfy all requirements under specified provisions of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The bill provides that any rules adopted must require that the interests of all class members are adequately protected, the settlement be fair, just, and reasonable for all class members, and the award of attorney's fees and expenses be fair and reasonable considering the circumstances of the action (Sec. 22.015). House Bill 2072 amends the Civil Practice and Remedies Code to provide that an interlocutory appeal that certifies or refuses to certify a class in a suit stays all proceedings in the trial court pending resolution of the appeal (Sec. 51.014). The bill sets forth provisions relating to the venue of a class action that is not against a natural person (Sec. 15.021). The bill provides that the limitations period applicable to an action against a defendant named in a class action is suspended for members of the putative class from the date the class action petition is filed until the date the request for class certification is denied or the class is decertified (Sec. 16.073). The bill provides that provisions relating to a class action involving jurisdiction of a state agency only apply to an action in which a claimant seeks recovery of damages or other relief on behalf of a class of claimants, and a disputed claim in the action involves the interpretation, application, or violation of an agency statute or rule with respect to one or more defendants (Sec. 26.002). The bill requires the court to dismiss an action without prejudice if one or more class representatives failed to exhaust a state agency's remedies and provides for a suspension of the limitations period during the administrative remedy process (Sec. 26.004). On a motion of a party in a class action involving jurisdiction of a state agency, the bill requires a court to abate for a six month period or dismiss without prejudice an action if the court determines that an issue in dispute involves questions of fact within the jurisdiction of a state agency to determine, an issue in dispute involves the interpretation or violation of an agency statute or rule, a state agency may make findings of fact and conclusions of law or issue orders that would aid the court in resolving the action, or a state agency may order all or part of the relief a claimant seeks in a contested case. The bill authorizes the court to extend the period of abatement if the court determines that the state agency is proceeding diligently to resolve the matters the court referred to the agency. The bill provides that the period of abatement ends when the state agency takes its final action on the matters the court referred to the agency, or the court determines that the state agency is not proceeding diligently to resolve the matters the court referred to the agency. (Secs. 26.005 and 26.006). After the abatement period, the bill authorizes the court to proceed with the action. The bill requires the court to dismiss an action if the court determines that the state agency granted all or a substantial part of the relief sought by the claimant, or the relief granted by the state agency is an adequate substitute for the relief sought by the claimant. The bill sets forth provisions relating to the transfer of venue of a class action involving jurisdiction of a state agency (Sec. 26.007). EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.