Washington, D.C.— House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), House Space, Science, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas.), and House Judiciary Committee Member Ken Buck (R-Colo.) released the following statements following House Judiciary Committee passage of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA) of 2017 (H.R. 720) by a vote of 17-6, and the Innocent Party Protection Act (H.R. 725) by a vote of 17-4.
Chairman Goodlatte: “Lawsuits are complicated, but these bills are simple. Frivolous lawsuits have no place in our legal system, and the true victims are often small businesses or individuals who cannot afford to fight these claims. Members of both the House and Senate have been trying to make our legal system work properly for the American people for years, and now we are taking action to get truly baseless lawsuits out of our courts.”
Chairman Smith: “Every day, innocent Americans face the scourge of frivolous lawsuits. Their reputations and livelihoods are jeopardized by attorneys who have everything to gain and nothing to lose by filing baseless lawsuits. LARA fights this legalized extortion. I look forward to working with Chairman Goodlatte and Senator Grassley to get this common sense bill to President Trump’s desk.”
Congressman Buck: “When trial lawyers fraudulently join small businesses into lawsuits, they threaten the integrity of our judicial system. The Innocent Party Protection Act protects America’s small businesses from groundless claims, allowing them to focus on creating jobs and adding value to the nation’s economy.”
Background: LARA restores accountability to our legal system by penalizing lawyers for filing baseless lawsuits. The bill specifically ensures that judges impose monetary sanctions against lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits, including the attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the victim of the frivolous lawsuit; and reverses the 1993 amendments to Rule 11 that allow parties and their attorneys to avoid sanctions for making frivolous claims by withdrawing them within 21 days. LARA passed the House during the 114th Congress.
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 was passed during the 114th Congress as the Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act.
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