Smith targets lawsuit abuse with new legislation

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced legislation on Thursday that would reduce frivolous lawsuits that he said hurt the U.S. legal system.

The Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act would impose mandatory sanctions on lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits in federal courts. The bill would also hold attorneys accountable for lawsuit abuse.

“Lawsuit abuse is common in America because the lawyers who bring these frivolous cases have everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Smith said. “Lawyers can file meritless lawsuits, and defendants are faced with the choice of years of litigation, high court costs and attorneys’ fees or a settlement. This is legalized extortion.”

Smith said his proposed bill would restore accountability to the U.S. legal system by imposing mandatory sanctions on attorneys who file worthless lawsuits.

Provisions in the proposed legislation include a mandate for judges to impose monetary sanctions against lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits, including the attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the victim of the frivolous lawsuit. The bill would also reverse current law that allows parties and their attorneys to avoid sanctions for making frivolous claims by withdrawing them within 21 days after a motion for sanctions has been served.

LARA is cosponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), George Holding (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).