by Jeff Sovern
The Senate letter, signed by more than a third of the Senators, is here, and the House letter with 65 signers, is here. The letters are more than pro forma expressions of support. They are extensively footnoted (and the House letter cites the law professor letter joined by more than 200 professors). Some excerpts from the Senate letter (with footnotes omitted):
The CFPB's study and proposal underscore the importance of class actions as a powerful tool to help consumers effectively vindicate their rights by returning billions of dollars to millions of consumers, in addition to achieving important non-monetary relief in the form of changes to harmful business practices. Because the majority of individual claims against consumer financial services companies are worth only small amounts of money, as Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals once put it, "the realistic alternative to a class action is not 17 million individual suits, but zero individual suits, as only a lunatic or a fanatic sues for $30."The CFPB's data confirms this: although millions of financial consumers are covered by forced arbitration clauses and class action waivers, the CFPB found that only a few hundred consumers file arbitration claims each year and that very few file individual claims in court, particularly when compared to the 32 million consumers who benefit from class actions each year.