Self-serving law making — part II

I’m busily engaged in sleuthing activities (okay, research) as to what may have been driving the amendments to the seafarer’s wage penalty statute.  And let me tell you, what I found is pure gold.  

Gold, I say. You can be the judge and maybe it doesn’t mean anything, but I think you’ll find it good reading when I lay out which legislators sponsored the amendments, which legislators were on the specific committee charged with the amendments and ‘lo who those legislators’ donors were during that year. 

Anyway, that blog entry needs some neat wording, and it’ll be my next post.  But, in a related sort of topic, did you hear how the Supreme Court ruled on the federal class action statute?

To make an academic story interesting, let me just say that this week the Supreme Court narrowed a claimant’s ability to pursue a class action lawsuit in state court. It’s popular in the media to make fun of class-actions, but I can’t think of a better mechanism for policing corporate bad behavior. Class actions are sort of the little man’s way of leveling the playing field because it allows a lot of small claims to be brought together into one big claim that suddenly makes a corporation sit up and listen. 

Anyway, a claimant used to be able to dodge a federal law (the so-called Class Action Fairness Act which is about as self-serving a law as you can get) that corrals certain class actions into federal court (as opposed to state court) by alleging that the damages sought by the class would not exceed the threshold amount triggering federal jurisdiction. But that hatch slammed shut, when the Supreme Court ruled that a claimant can’t do that anymore.  In my opinion, big business won out in this ruling by finding yet another way to avoid having such claims heard in state courts where I’d venture the sailing is not as smooth. 

Alright, stand by for next week’s third and final installment of “Self-serving law making.”

Underway and making way.


About the author

John K. Fulweiler

John K. Fulweiler is a licensed mariner and experienced admiralty attorney. He represents individuals and companies throughout the East and Gulf Coasts and has recently taken command of his own maritime law firm. He enjoys navigating the choppy waters of the maritime law, but readily admits to missing life on the water. He can be reached at . His website is

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