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September 12, 2004

Chamber Marks House ‘Tort Reform Week’ by Urging Swift Passage of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today marked the start of “Tort Reform Week” in the U.S. House of Representatives by renewing its call for the House to quickly pass H.R. 4571, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2004.

“Frivolous lawsuits are hitting hard-working Americans where it hurts most – in their pocketbooks,” said ILR President Lisa Rickard. “Lawsuit abuse threatens jobs and raises prices for all consumers. I urge Congress to boost our economy and protect American jobs by taking swift action to pass the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act.”

H.R. 4571, scheduled for House debate tomorrow, would help curb frivolous litigation by strengthening the enforcement provisions of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures and by creating a new requirement that would reduce forum shopping by plaintiff’s attorneys. Specific provisions include:

– Making monetary sanctions against attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits mandatory rather than discretionary and removing Rule 11’s safe harbor provision that allows attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits to avoid sanctions by withdrawing their suit after a motion for sanctions has been filed;

– Allowing sanctions for frivolous or harassing conduct during discovery; and

– Allowing a plaintiff to sue only where he or she lives or was injured, or where the defendant’s principal place of business is located.

On June 22, ILR submitted written testimony supporting H.R. 4571, introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). On July 22, Rickard testified in favor of the bill before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform and Oversight.

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial and educational activities at the national, state and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

A full copy of the ILR testimony mentioned above is available online. http://www.legalreformnow.com

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