Congress Works to Rein in Frivolous Lawsuits
By overwhelming majority, Congress yesterday passed H.R. 758, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, which would allow sanctions against attorneys filing frivolous lawsuits and help compensate victims of abusive litigation. It now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
In 2013, ALEC members adopted a resolution encouraging just this sort of policy reform. Victims of frivolous litigation should have a fair means of seeking reimbursement of their legal expenses and the ALEC Resolution in Support of Fair Recourse and Effective Deterrence Against Frivolous Claims supports just that.
Changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1993 left victims of frivolous claims with practically no recourse. These rules provide unscrupulous lawyers with the ability to demand payment, even when a claim has no basis in law or fact, or is brought for purposes of harassment, without the threat of any economic consequences. Consequence-free frivolous litigation against our country’s businesses is a barrier to economic prosperity. The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act would eliminate the “safe harbor” that gives frivolous filers an opportunity to withdraw claims at the last minute to avoid sanctions. Additionally, the Act would require the offending party to pay the other party’s attorneys’ fees.
Many state courts conform their rules to those used in federal courts to provide for consistency between the systems, so the 1993 change weakening the federal rule against frivolous lawsuits also adversely impacted state civil justice systems. Improvement is needed on the federal level and in many states to protect innocent individuals and businesses from unwarranted litigation. The federal government is one step closer to fixing this loophole and holding lawyers accountable for frivolous lawsuits.