Big “I” Praises President, Congress for USA Class Action Law

Association, successful in this effort, will push further legal reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 18, 2005 � The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big �I�) today commended President Bush for signing the Class Action Fairness Act (S.5) into law. The Association also again praised leaders in both houses of Congress�including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and their allies in this effort�for working hard this month to get the bill to the President�s desk.

�Enactment of the Class Action Fairness Act is an important first step in creating needed legal reform in America,� says Big �I� CEO Robert A. Rusbuldt, who along with IIABA President Tom Grau attended today’s Presidential bill signing ceremony at the White House. �This bill will strike a balance, in class-action cases, between the needs of consumers and small businesses, and the Big �I� has been pushing for this solution for years.�

The Big �I� has strongly supported necessary reforms to the nation�s class action system, particularly changes that would put an end to so-called �venue shopping,� in which plaintiffs� lawyers steer cases to particular state courts which are trial-lawyer friendly. Such abuses of the system encourage frivolous lawsuits and create hardships for small businesses, including independent insurance agents and brokers. Frivolous suits, by clogging the court system, also make it harder for truly deserving plaintiffs to have their cases heard.

�This bill is important for the clients of independent agents,� Grau says. �As President Bush said today, this bill is the right thing for consumers, for businesses and for real justice. The three real world examples of class action problems he cited at the signing ceremony today are just some of the reasons why this law is needed and why it will make the United States a better place to do business.�

�President Bush and the legislation�s backers in Congress�including Majority Leader Frist, Senator Grassley, Congressman Goodlatte and many others�deserve a great deal of credit for making this legislation a priority,� says Charles E. Symington, Jr., Big �I� senior vice president of federal government affairs. �These leaders never wavered, even in the face of many obstacles, and we applaud them for enacting a truly positive reform bill that will protect businesses and serve consumers well.�

The Big �I� now will redouble its efforts to get overarching legal reform enacted, including remedies for the backlog of asbestos-related cases and the daunting number of medical-liability cases currently in the court system. The President, in addition to pushing for class-action reform, has been very supportive of the need for overarching legal changes, including asbestos and medical-liability reform.

�The President and leaders in Congress have proven their commitment to legal reform, and we are very encouraged as we move forward to tackle the important issues of asbestos and medical-liability litigation,� Rusbuldt says. �We will continue to reach out to lawmakers in both parties to enact common-sense legal reforms that benefit both small businesses and individual citizens.�

Founded in 1896, the Big �I� is the nation�s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance�property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: