Search Results for ‘"lawsuit abuse reduction act"’

Litigation reform moving fast through House of Representatives

With both Congress and White House now in Republican hands, the U.S. House of Representatives is moving with dispatch to consider a series of litigation reform measures, some stalled for years by Democratic opposition and others of relatively recent vintage. Bruce Kaufman at BNA Bloomberg has a three-part series (first, second, third) followed by an update today on the looming battle over the six main bills:

  • The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 720) “requires judges to impose mandatory sanctions on attorneys who file ‘meritless’ civil cases in federal courts.”
  • The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (H.R. 985) which “affects nearly all facets of class action practice” and in particular “class certification requirements, capping or delaying distribution of fees to class counsel, requiring the disclosure of litigation financing, and tying the reporting of settlement data to plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fees.” [More: various academic opponents weigh in here, Andrew Trask defends provisions of the bill here and here, and see earlier]
  • The Innocent Party Protection Act (H.R. 725) “targets what is known as fraudulent joinder—the improper addition of [local] defendants to suits in a bid to keep cases in more plaintiff-friendly state courts.”
  • The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act (H.R. 906) “mandates increased reporting of payments to plaintiffs by trusts that pay out asbestos exposure claims against bankrupt companies,” in hopes of preventing undisclosed duplicative collection of damages over the same injury.
  • The Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act (H.R. 732) which “seeks to bar the Department of Justice from entering into settlements that steer funds to favored third-party groups.”
  • The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act (H.R. 469) Goes after what have been called “sue-and-settle” processes at EPA in which the agency reaches concessionary terms with ostensibly adverse litigants who seek to expand its authority.

Trial lawyers and allies in the Litigation Lobby aren’t standing idly by: “opponents hope to gum up the works.” Even if many bills clear House passage, getting to 60 votes in the Senate in the face of filibuster threats could prove difficult, despite the departure of perennial trial lawyer ally Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and the views of President Trump are not entirely clear. More: Washington Examiner editorial on class action measures.

Liability roundup

  • Uphill battle in Congress for bill to “prohibit federal courts from issuing awards that consider the victim’s race or gender, among other demographic variables” [Kim Soffen, Washington Post on “Fair Calculations Act”]
  • Normalizing champerty, the Ann Arbor way: University of Michigan endowment to take stake in litigation finance fund [Janet Lorin, Bloomberg News]
  • Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA), restoring sanctions for groundless litigation, cleared House committee vote last month [@HouseJudiciary]
  • “Lynch’s Doubling of False Claims Act Fines Could Be Bonanza for Trial Lawyers” [Joe Schoffstall, Washington Free Beacon]
  • “Katrina victims shocked by small payments in levee failure case they ‘won’ – $118 each, on average” [David Hammer, WWL-TV]
  • Advisory Committee on Civil Rules considers revising Rule 23 on class actions [Washington Legal Foundation comments]

Liability roundup

  • Preview of testimony from Dr. Robert Taub, formerly of Columbia U., in upcoming asbestos-referral corruption trial of former New York assembly speaker Sheldon Silver [NY Post]
  • Class action procedure: “Big Changes to Rule 23 in 2018? Be Sure to Weigh In Now” [Paul Karlsgodt, Andrew Trask]
  • In case it wasn’t clear already — but Overlawyered readers knew, didn’t they? — the aunt who sued her nephew wasn’t really upset with her young relative, she was trying to get at insurance money [New Jersey Civil Justice Institute]
  • “Judge’s Solution To Lead-Paint Problem May Be A Public Nuisance Itself” [Daniel Fisher]
  • “Randy Maniloff: Lawyers want to force teams to use ‘foul pole to foul pole’ netting to protect fans from injury” [W$J, earlier]
  • House passes bill to re-toughen Rule 11 sanctions, prospects for getting past White House uncertain [Rep. Lamar Smith press release, Texans for Lawsuit Reform on Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act]
  • Denver: “a case that lawyers say is the first product liability claim in the nation involving the legal marijuana industry” [Greenfield Reporter]

An end to impunity

The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA), versions of which have been discussed in this space for years, would reverse the 1993 gutting of Rule 11, the federal rule providing sanctions for baseless lawsuits, and would thus establish that lawyers, like other professionals, should expect to be responsible for compensating those they injure by negligence or worse. Early this month LARA won the approval of the House Judiciary Committee, but is unlikely to prevail (this term, at least) in the more Litigation-Lobby-friendly Senate. [Stier, ShopFloor; earlier here, etc.]

April 18 roundup

March 15 roundup

  • “A conversation with class action objector Ted Frank” [American Lawyer]
  • Reviews of new Lester Brickman book Lawyer Barons [Dan Fisher/Forbes, Russell Jackson] Plus: interview at TortsProf; comments from Columbia legal ethicist William Simon [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “Collective Bargaining for States But Not for Uncle Sam” [Adler] Examples of how Wisconsin public-sector unionism has worked in practice [Perry] Wisconsin cop union: nice business you got there, shame if anything were to happen to it [Sykes, WTMJ] “Union ‘rights’ that aren’t” [Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe]
  • “Minnesota House Considering Significant Consumer Class Action Reform Measures” [Karlsgodt]
  • 10,000 lawyers at DoD? Rumsfeld complains military overlawyered [Althouse via Instapundit]
  • “Are Meritless Claims More Prevalent in Copyright?” [Boyden, Prawfs]
  • Claim: availability of punitive damages reduces rate of truck accidents. Really? [Curt Cutting]
  • Now with improved federalism: “The Return of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” [Carter Wood, more, earlier here].

House again passes LARA

By a vote of 228-184 yesterday, mostly on partisan lines, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 420, the proposed Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA). (“Tort Reform Legislation Passes House, Moves to Senate”, Insurance Journal, Oct. 28). The vote margin was about the same as last year (see Jun. 21 and Sept. 15, 2004), and, as with last year, Senate passage this session is considered a long shot. For more on the bill’s sound overall rationale, as well as its weaker aspects, see our earlier coverage. More: Stop the BS has posted a copy of the bill (Oct. 29).

House votes to strengthen sanctions against meritless suits

By a 229-174 vote, largely along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the proposed Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas); it now goes on to an uncertain future in the Senate. (see Point of Law Sept. 9, Aug. 17, Jun. 21; this site, Jun. 21). (Bloomberg, Reuters, AP). The bill would restore the stronger Rule 11 standards which used to entitle victims of meritless litigation in federal court to recompense in the form of sanctions: a previous Congress, following a major push by the litigation lobby, gutted Rule 11 in 1993. A source on Capitol Hill who is in a position to know suggests that we might want to provide a link to the House Judiciary Committee Report on today’s bill, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act. “The report compiles in one place a ton of information on the problem of lawsuit abuse, with many of the examples of frivolous lawsuits drawn from your Web site”. And indeed, a quick glance at several sections of the report suggests that we did serve as an important source of material, for which we’re grateful.

Lawmaker proposes reinvigorating Rule 11

Between 1983 and 1993, federal courts maintained relatively strong rules authorizing the levying of sanctions against lawyers or clients who pursue ill-grounded lawsuits, pleadings, motions or defenses. In 1993, following a quiet but determined lobbying campaign by organized litigation interests, Congress more or less gutted those rules, making sanctions much harder to obtain. Reinvigorating Rule 11 has long been high on our list of reform priorities, so we’re glad to see that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), who chairs the House Judiciary subcommittee on courts, last week announced that he was introducing a bill entitled the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, restoring a strong Rule 11. According to the Congressman’s Jun. 15 press release, the bill (begin direct quote):

* Makes sanctions against attorneys or parties who file frivolous lawsuits mandatory rather than discretionary;

* Removes a “safe harbor” provision that allows plaintiffs and their attorneys to avoid sanctions for frivolous suits by withdrawing them within 21 days;

* Allows sanctions for frivolous or harassing conduct during discovery, which is the phase of litigation where parties disclose documents;

* Permits judges to order plaintiffs to reimburse reasonable litigation costs, including attorney?s fees.

(end direct quote). According to the release, the bill also contains a provision to curb forum-shopping, and “[e]xtends Rule 11 sanctions to state cases that affect interstate commerce”. The last-mentioned clause sounds more than problematic from a federalist point of view, but presumably can be left on the cutting room floor at some point so that the other provisions can be considered on their own merits. More: Point of Law, Aug. 17.