Washington, D.C. — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Judiciary Committee Member Ken Buck (R-Colo.) released the following statements following House passage of the Innocent Party Protection Act (H.R. 725) by a vote of 224-194 .
Chairman Goodlatte: “Hardworking Americans and small businesses should not have to worry that they could be dragged into lawsuits they have no connection to as part of some lawyer’s forum shopping strategy. Irresponsible attorneys bring claims against innocent parties in order to find a favorable ruling in a local court, and this tactic imposes a real cost to the innocent individuals who are targeted.
“These practices not only are bad for our civil litigation system, but also for our American economy. Frivolous lawsuits have no place in our system of justice, and the Innocent Party Protection Act provides judges with the tools to free American workers and businesses from these frivolous lawsuits.”
Congressman Buck: “Local, small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. But when innocent local businesses are fraudulently pulled into lawsuits by trial lawyers, these companies can no longer focus on creating jobs and adding value to our communities.”
Background: The Innocent Party Protection Act would help address litigation abuse in which trial lawyers drag small businesses owners into court, to answer for claims to which they have no real connection, simply to further the lawyers’ forum shopping strategy.
Under the bill, federal judges would be given greater discretion to remove innocent local defendants (mostly small businesses) from lawsuits when businesses are sued by trial lawyers who simply want to keep the case in a state court where they think they can get a more favorable verdict. The Innocent Party Protection Act passed the House during the 114th Congress as the Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act.