Plaintiffs attorneys may not like him, but U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of Austin is nothing if not consistent. For years, he has striven to restore balance and fairness to our legal system by removing incentives for lawsuit abuse and other fast practices.
Smith often has called for greater transparency in the administration of asbestos trusts, for instance. The secrecy surrounding the trusts facilitates double-dipping: lawyers making multiple claims against various trusts on behalf of a single client..
“This lack of transparency appears to foster dishonest claims practices and encourage claimants and their attorneys to seek duplicative payments by concealing trust recoveries,” Smith has observed. The effect of such actions is to “increase the financial burden on solvent tort defendants and other asbestos trusts and thereby unfairly reduce the compensation available to deserving present and future claimants.”
Smith has also protested proposed tax breaks for plaintiffs attorneys, seeing them as an unjust reward and further incentive for attacks on successful American businesses.
Smith’s crusade for justice continues with his recent introduction of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA), providing mandatory sanctions for lawyers who file bogus lawsuits in federal court.
“Lawsuit abuse is common in America because the lawyers who bring these frivolous cases have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Smith explains. “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 says that “LARA encourages attorneys to think twice before filing frivolous lawsuits.”
This small, simple step will do more to stimulate our staggering economy than all the so-called stimulus packages being rushed through Congress to capitalize cronies and promote partisan interests.
It’s long past time to rein in the unscrupulous trial lawyers who are sacking and pillaging productive private enterprises and destroying opportunities they create for the rest of us. We could use more public servants like Lamar Smith.