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And so it grows -- letting state AGs sue to enforce federal laws



There's a new bill, H.R. 1214, the Payday Loan Reform Act, introduced in February by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL). In a statement, Rep. Gutierrez says the bill, "provides significant new federal protections for payday loan consumers by restricting or prohibiting certain predatory payday loan terms and lending practices." The bill caps payday loan fees and interest rates at a total of 15 cents for every dollar borrowed, lower than the cap in 23 states.

The bill also creates a private cause of action, allowing individuals to sue for damages under the law, AND ....

`(h) State Attorneys General Enforcement- The appropriate State attorney general may bring an action to enforce this section and to obtain injunctive relief in any United States district court or any other court of competent jurisdiction, not later than 3 years after the date of the violation.'.

We now officially have a trend, three pieces of legislation (two already law) that fragment the consistent application of federal laws by encouraging civil litigation carried out by state attorneys general -- including ambitious attorneys general, grandstanding attorneys general, and unrestrained attorneys general.

  • The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (Public Law 110-314) included provisions giving state attorneys general the authority to enforce provisions of the law. (Subtitle B, Section 218)
  • The stimulus bill, aka the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Public Law 111-5), created new law allowing state attorneys general to sue business and private parties for HIPAA violations (SEC. 13410. IMPROVED ENFORCEMENT), recovering attorneys fees if they prevail. The new law also lets the AGs to hire private attorneys on contingency to pursue the civil litigation. (See U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform news release.)

It is almost as if the lobbyists for the trial lawyers have a long-term, comprehensive legislative strategy to expand the venues and opportunity for litigation.

(Thanks to tort reform impresario expert Victor Schwartz of Shook, Hardy and Bacon for pointing out the bill to us.)

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.