House Passes Bill Targeting ‘Frivolous’ Lawsuits

Bloomberg BNA
Friday, March 10, 2017

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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