Happy Lawsuit Abuse Week!

By October 17, 2005Briefly Legal

The House of Representatives has designated the week of October 17 as “Lawsuit Abuse Week”. Not sure Hallmark makes a card for this, but if they did it would be a fairly dreary one. Under this banner, proponents of legal reform will attempt to take up a few bills aimed at stemming the flood of frivolous litigation in this country.

First things first: We spend — no, flush down the drain — over 2% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on tort costs. That would be seven and a half times more (in dollars) than our nearest competitor, Germany. And, it is more than the entire GDP of every country on this list. Unfortunately, we are the undisputed gold medal winners in tort costs, a rock around every person’s next and especially every business that is trying to compete.

Among the bills to be taken up in the House this week is one (HR 554) aimed at limiting obesity lawsuits against food manufacturers, distributors, etc. It flies under the heady name of “Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act”, but it oughta be called the “Put down that fork!” Act, no?

Another (HR 420) attempts to curb frivolous lawsuits by strengthening Rule 11. Rule 11 for the un-churched among you is an actual rule in the law that forbids the filing of frivolous lawsuits. From reading about what goes on out there, you’d be forgiven if you had no confidence in this rule. Neither do we. The bill would put some teeth back into Rule 11 and require sanctions if — heaven forbid — somebody filed a frivolous lawsuit. (“There’s gambling in my casino!?”)

We’ll be writing more on this topic this week, but wanted you all to be aware of this. Thanks to folks like John Edwards and Dickie Scruggs, legal costs have skyrocketed, crippling innovation and putting a tax on every man, woman and child in this country. If you get a chance, click here and drop a note to your Member of Congress and urge them to vote for everything coming through this week that’ll stem the tide of lawsuits.