Oregon Senate votes down class-action bill

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Senate has voted down a bill that would have used unclaimed money from class-action judgments to boost funding for lawyers who serve the poor.

Moderate Democrat Betsy Johnson joined all 14 Republicans to block the measure on Thursday.

In Oregon, defendants who lose or settle a class-action lawsuit keep any unclaimed portion of the judgment. Democrats wanted that money to go instead to an endowment that would help fund legal aid lawyers who help poor people with non-criminal cases.

Proponents say it’s unfair for companies that break the law to keep the money they’re ordered to pay.

Critics objected that the bill applies to cases already in progress. GOP lawmakers said Democrats were trying to push an imperfect bill to help them in the upcoming election.

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