Meeks said in an interview he did not see it as crossing party lines, noting that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) had co-sponsored the Senate's version of the bill."I don't support court shopping," said Meeks. Court shopping is the term used to refer to lawyers who bring class action suits in states that have traditionally awarded large settlements regardless of whether the majority of plaintiffs in the class action are from that state. The new legislation, the Class-Action Fairness Act of 2005, calls for class-action suits seeking $5 million or more to be held in state court only if the primary defendant and more than one-third of the other defendants are from that state. Meeks said he did not support putting caps on the amount of money awarded in lawsuits. He said he voted for the bill to send the lawsuits to the federal courts, which would have more experience in ruling on such suits once they are heard more frequently. "The best way to get rid of frivolous lawsuits is to get a court with expertise," said Meeks. "I'd like to see a separate court."Meeks said he would like to meet with experts in the industry and see if a separate court, much like family or traffic court, would be a viable option."I'm looking to work with some lawyers and doctors on this," said Meeks. "We'll try to work something out." Meeks said he was unsure if such a court would be at the state or federal level."It could be down at the state level, I guess," said Meeks after being asked who would control the courts. "We have to research the issue." The bill was passed by the house 279-149 on Feb. 17 and was signed into law the following day by President George W. Bush, according to the White House Web site. The passing of the legislation was seen as a victory for Bush, who has pushed hard for it, mentioning it in his State of the Union address last month and throughout his re-election campaign. Meeks was the only representative from the Queens congressional delegation to vote in favor of the bill.Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@times
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