Today, the House passed the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 758) by a vote of 241–185. I voted against H.R. 758 because, despite its name this legislation would clog our federal courts and make it more difficult for plaintiffs to enforce civil rights and other laws.
H.R. 758 would end judicial discretion in deciding when to sanction a party for filing a frivolous lawsuit. It would bring back Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, which was rescinded in 1993. The rule required judges to impose monetary sanctions in all cases in which a claim appears to lack evidentiary support, even before a party has had the opportunity to present its case. The rule, which was in place between 1983 and 1993, was changed because it had the opposite of its intended effect and actually led to an increase in litigation as parties used the threat of mandatory sanctions to delay proceedings and make going to court more expensive for individuals who lack the resources of a large corporation. The old rule disproportionately harmed consumer and civil rights plaintiffs, who were frequently the target of threatened sanctions aimed at silencing their claims. There is no reason to resurrect this failed experiment.
H.R. 758 is now pending in the Senate. The president has indicated his opposition to the legislation.