U.S. House Passes Sweeping Legal Reform

Last week, the United States House of Representatives passed sweeping legal reforms impacting class action litigation, with successful votes on the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017, the Innocent Party Protection Act of 2017 and the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017. This legislative progress is a testament to the long-standing efforts of the business community and other pro-growth allies who have fought to ensure greater legal certainty, clarity and transparency for job creators.

The passage of these bills signals Congress’ commitment to reduce the harmful, growth-killing impacts of frivolous lawsuits and the abuses of our court system. The Fairness in Class Action Litigation and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017, a combination of two separate bills, would see that plaintiffs’ lawyers only earn a percentage of the reward actually received by class members and restricts multi-district litigation abuses. In addition, it would cut repetitive claims against the asbestos bankruptcy trusts by requiring the trusts to report quarterly on the individuals filing claims. The Innocent Party Protection Act of 2017 would stop the manipulation of our state courts by preventing plaintiffs’ lawyers from filing suits against small businesses and individuals purely to have the suit heard in a friendly court, while the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017 would amend Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, making it mandatory for courts to impose sanctions on parties who file frivolous lawsuits.

These reforms would inhibit the rampant abuses of our judiciary and provide greater protections for employers and others who find themselves the unfair targets of senseless lawsuits. The NC Chamber is encouraged by the passage of these important bills in the House and we remain hopeful that the 115th Congress, with the new administration, will be successful in strengthening our nation’s legal climate as these bills head to the Senate. We will continue to update you as these reforms advance.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber

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