Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, today introduced an important piece of civil justice reform, the Lawsuit Reduction Abuse Act.

The House bill is H.R. 966 (text).

From the joint news release:

The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA) imposes mandatory sanctions for lawyers who file meritless suits in federal court. Federal rules mandating sanctions for frivolous suits were watered down in 1993, resulting in the current crisis of widespread lawsuit abuse. LARA restores the mandatory sanctions which hold attorneys accountable for lawsuit abuse.

Specifically, the legislation:

  • Reinstates the requirement that if there is a violation of Rule 11, there are sanctions (Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was originally intended to deter frivolous lawsuits by sanctioning the offending party).
  • Requires that judges impose monetary sanctions against lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits. Those monetary sanctions will include the attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the victim of the frivolous lawsuit.
  • 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 after a motion for sanctions has been served.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Courts has a hearing scheduled on the bill at 10 a.m. Friday, March 11. Victor Schwartz, general counsel for the American Tort Reform Association, will be one of the witnesses, ATRA reports.

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