President Bush in Collinsville Jan. 5

In a landmark bill signing ceremony President George W. Bush signed the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 into law Friday.

But before signing the bill, the president made several references to the Metro-East, including the significant number of cases filed in Madison County in the past week--20.

"And we're only in February," he said.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 in a 279-149 vote Thursday, and because of the flurry of class action filings taking place in Madison and St. Clair counties, the president hastened signing the bill into law.

"Madison County juries are responsible for awarding large verdicts," Bush said before signing the bill. "And the vast majority (involved) are not from Madison County."

The president also referred to a case involving a faulty TV that was settled in Madison County. Class members got $50 rebates for TVs from the same manufacturer and their lawyers got millions. (See related story: Lawyers wanted more money; class members wanted TV).

"Where's the justice in that?" the president quipped.

Bush said the bill would "help protect people who are wrongfully harmed while reducing the frivolous lawsuits that clog our courts, hurt the economy, cost jobs and burden American businesses."

The bill mainly shifts most class action lawsuits from state to federal courts. Cases involving damages that may potentially exceed $5 million and where plaintiffs are geographically dispersed will be affected.

Madison County Circuit Judge George Moran told The Record, “As a judge I will enforce the law. It is not my job whether to say if it is right or wrong.”

The president visited Madison County last month pushing for class action and other legal reforms.

Click here to see all the details of the bill.

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