It may be called the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA) of 2017, but U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of Austin has been proposing this measure for years without success.
Though prospects for passage were bleak in the past, now with a Republican president in the White House and Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress, things are looking up for LARA.
Approved last week by the House Judiciary Committee, the bill--if passed and signed by President Trump--would change Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to make sanctions for frivolous claims mandatory, rather than subject to a judge's discretion.
“Lawsuit abuse is common in America because the lawyers who bring these frivolous cases have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Smith explained when he introduced LARA four years ago. “Lawyers can file meritless lawsuits and defendants are faced with the choice of years of litigation, high court costs and attorney’s fees, or a settlement. This is legalized extortion.”
Smith reiterated those sentiments last week. “Every day, innocent Americans face the scourge of frivolous lawsuits,” he complained. “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.”
Smith has long advocated for legal reform, LARA being but one example of his commitment to restoring fairness to our legal system by removing incentives for abuse.
He has often called for greater transparency in the administration of asbestos trusts, to eliminate the secrecy that facilitates double-dipping. He's also protested proposed tax breaks for plaintiffs attorney as an unjust reward and further incentive for attacks on successful American businesses.
We have long supported Smith's efforts to rein in those trial lawyers targeting productive private enterprises that create worthwhile goods and services and provide employment opportunities for the benefit of all Americans. We hope his ongoing efforts pay off, now that his party has full control of our federal government.