By Bruce Kaufman
Attorneys who file lawsuits found to be “meritless” will face mandatory sanctions under legislation that passed the House in a March 10 vote largely along party lines.
Federal judges currently have discretion to impose sanctions, but many choose not to do so.
The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act ( H.R. 720) passed the lower chamber by a 230-188 margin.
All but three Democrats opposed the measure, while five Republicans broke ranks and voted against the bill.
A similar measure passed the House in 2015 by a 241-185 vote, but died in the Senate.
“When this bill becomes law, it will hold plaintiffs’ lawyers accountable for filing frivolous claims so they cannot simply withdraw a lawsuit without consequence, resulting in fewer bogus lawsuits,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform and a leading supporter of the bill.
But consumer advocate Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy in New York, told Bloomberg BNA that the bill was never about frivolous lawsuits.
“It is about stopping legitimate cases against companies that harm people,” she said.
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