Still, STILL, Waiting for Those Hearings

By April 24, 2008Briefly Legal

Returning to a favorite theme around here, Sherman “Tiger” Joyce of the American Tort Reform Association takes to the pages of The Hill to ask for a little balance: If Congress is going to hold hearings into the various scandals and offenses by big business, shouldn’t it also look into the predations of trial attorneys like Mel Weiss, William Lerach and Dickie Scruggs?

His column, “Congress overlooks plaintiff-lawyer abuses,” also notes that the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA) — passed by the House in 2004, could serve an important corrective purpose.

Without preventing plaintiffs from filing legitimate lawsuits in jurisdictions with actual connections to their alleged injuries, LARA would restore the mandatory sanctions for filing frivolous lawsuits that were eliminated in a controversial 1993 change to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. These sanctions could include reimbursement of reasonable attorney’s fees and litigation costs. Many foreign countries with which America competes economically already maintain such commonsense safeguards against lawsuit abuse. And the crimes of Dickie Scruggs, Bill Lerach and Mel Weiss aren’t qualitatively different than the crimes of Dennis Kozlowski at Tyco or Jeff Skilling and the late Ken Lay at Enron.

So why aren’t chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees and other congressional leaders calling for hearings into apparent corruption within the litigation industry?

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