AAJ Response to House Judiciary Committee Approval of H.R. 2655

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For Immediate Release: September 11, 2013

Contact: Katie Gommel
American Association for Justice
202-965-6645
katherine.gommel@justice.org

AAJ Response to House Judiciary Committee Approval of H.R. 2655

Washington, DC— The following is a statement from American Association for Justice (AAJ) President Burton LeBlanc in response to the House Judiciary Committee approving H.R. 2655:
 
“H.R. 2655 will undermine Americans’ rights to seek accountability through the civil justice system and force our courts and judges down a path that is known to be unnecessary and counterproductive.
 
“The rules this bill imposes on the courts were tested from 1983 to 1993 and found to be a complete failure by judges and legal scholars.  At a time when our courts are already suffering from persistent underfunding and the recent effects of sequestration, Congress should focus efforts on improving accountability instead of adding unnecessary burdens and delays.”
 
Background:

  • Rule 11, as it is currently written, gives judges the flexibility to determine when to enforce sanctions against attorneys who file lawsuits containing errors or for improper purposes.
  • H.R. 2655 would take away that flexibility, replacing the discretion of federal court judges with Congressionally-mandated rules that were previously tested and found to be a complete failure.
  • When these ill-advised rules were in effect from 1983 to 1993, it actually resulted in more litigation and prevented Americans who were targets of discrimination or civil rights violations from bringing meritorious cases.
  • Rule changes in H.R. 2655 would:
    • Make sanctions mandatory, rather than discretionary;
    • Incentivize parties to drag out litigation by filing unwarranted motions for attorney’s fees;
    • Remove the safe-harbor provision of the rule, effectively eliminating the ability to remedy minor infractions.
  • The American Bar Association and a coalition of consumer groups have written letters to Congress opposing this legislation.
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