Issues

ILR advocates on the key issues below.
Arbitration

Empirical studies show arbitration is a fairer, faster, and less expensive way for employees and consumers to resolve conflicts than costly and time-consuming courtroom litigation. But it is continuously under attack from plaintiffs’ lawyers who benefit the most from lawsuits. ILR fights to preserve arbitration at the federal and state levels.

Asbestos

Once described as an “endless search for a solvent bystander,” asbestos litigation has already bankrupted over 100 companies. Trial lawyers generate thousands of these lawsuits each year through advertising blitzes, by developing new liability theories, and by targeting new companies with litigation. Concerns that waste, fraud, and abuse afflict the $30 billion trust funds created to aid asbestos victims prompted law enforcement investigations.

COVID-19 Liability

This historic pandemic has created many new legal questions. One of them is whether businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations should face COVID-related damage awards even if they followed applicable public health guidelines and did not engage in grossly negligent behavior or willful misconduct. Timely, temporary, and targeted liability protections will help protect against opportunistic lawsuits and aid our economic recovery.

Class Action Litigation

Class actions, designed initially to consolidate similar lawsuits into one large collective action, have become expensive and time-consuming, and are used by plaintiffs’ lawyers to force companies to settle regardless of the case having merit. Consumers get pennies on the dollar while plaintiffs’ lawyers, the system’s actual beneficiaries, get massive payouts.

Data Privacy

Businesses face a patchwork of privacy and data laws, some of which allow plaintiffs’ lawyers to file excessive lawsuits even if they cannot prove actual harm. ILR advocates for federal and state privacy laws that ensure Americans get the protections they need while also allowing companies to embrace the data-driven future.

False Claims Act (FCA)

The False Claims Act penalizes those who knowingly defraud the federal government and even allows private whistleblowers to sue in the government’s name. Though well-intentioned, it has transformed into a profitable enterprise for plaintiffs’ lawyers due to the statute’s broad language, while over-enforcement practices have also stimulated significant abuses.

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), initially a well-intentioned law designed to keep international commerce above board, has not evolved to reflect changes in the global economy. FCPA enforcement practices create major uncertainty for American businesses who now face civil and criminal penalties for conduct they are either unaware of or resulting from a single employee’s inappropriate actions. Congress should modernize the FCPA.

International Initiatives

The U.S.-style litigation culture is expanding globally. ILR responds where it matters most by championing balanced legal systems to avoid the American lawsuit system’s costliness and wastefulness in places like Australia, the UK, the EU, and beyond.

Lawsuit Lending

Lawsuit lending allows plaintiffs’ lawyers to work with lenders to loan clients cash to cover immediate expenses during litigation. But these loans typically come with sky-high interest rates and fees—as much as 200 percent—that can leave plaintiffs with little to no recovery while fueling questionable litigation driven by lenders looking to cash in.

Mass Tort Multidistrict Litigation

Historically, multidistrict litigation proceedings (MDLs) were an efficient way of handling the pretrial phase of large numbers of similar lawsuits. Now, plaintiffs’ lawyers are using MDLs to litigate questionable or meritless claims hoping that the sheer number of cases will pressure defendants to settle. Reform is needed to avoid baseless proceedings.

Medical Liability

America’s broken medical liability system is raising costs and obstructing the quality of care for millions. While many states have adopted successful reforms, sky-high medical liability costs resulting from meritless lawsuits remain a significant problem. They can lead to “defensive medicine,” where doctors look to protect themselves from liability. Without reform, the cost and quality of healthcare may suffer.

Municipality Litigation

Plaintiffs’ lawyers are now enlisting cities and counties as plaintiffs in lawsuits over public policy issues best left to legislators. They pitch their services on a contingency fee basis while promising cities and counties an easy, no-risk revenue source. But too often, that revenue never comes—at the expense of victims. States must rein in municipality lawsuits so there can be a path to justice for everyone.

Over-Enforcement

Irrational enforcement practices can compromise the rule of law and fundamental fairness. ILR encourages companies and enforcement agencies to work in partnership to most effectively prevent waste, fraud, and corruption.

Securities Litigation Reform

Securities class action filings have skyrocketed recently, primarily due to merger and acquisition challenges and event-driven litigation. These lawsuits often produce no tangible benefit for the class members but can lead to huge fees for the lawyers. Reforms would help drive out meritless cases from the courts.

State Attorneys General

State attorneys general (AG) play an increasingly prominent role in enforcing laws and regulations affecting the business community. ILR works with AGs across the nation to help adopt rational enforcement policies and engage in productive ways with the business community.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was signed into law in 1991 to curb the increase of annoying telemarketing practices. Though technology has rapidly evolved since then, the law has not. Congress and the FCC must update and clarify the TCPA to modernize the statute to protect businesses from the frivolous lawsuits from being filed under this outdated law.

Third Party Litigation Funding (TPLF)

Third party litigation funding (TPLF) allows hedge funds and other financiers to invest in lawsuits in exchange for a percentage of any settlement or judgment. The practice started in Australia, expanded to Europe and the U.S., and is now spreading elsewhere. Without disclosure requirements and other commonsense safeguards, these funders may take over litigation and fuel unmeritorious lawsuits.

Transnational

Lawsuits brought by plaintiffs’ class action firms, public interest attorneys, and non-governmental organizations against U.S. companies or foreign companies with a substantial U.S. presence are sometimes premised on alleged injuries that occurred abroad. Such lawsuits raise the question of whether U.S. courts should be the venue for cases concerning conduct occurring outside U.S. borders.

Trial Lawyer Advertising

Advertising is one of the most used tools to recruit clients by plaintiffs’ lawyers, particularly in class and mass actions. Some ads misleadingly use government logos, graphic imagery, and “health warnings,” while others make unfounded claims about products and drastically mislead viewers about typical awards. Curbing misleading lawsuit advertising would ensure trial lawyer profit does not come before public health and consumer protection.

Other Issues

There are other issues of concern, as well. Things like court funding, influence, and little-known provisions that can tilt the balance of fairness. These issues that can also have a major impact on our civil justice system.

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