Lawsuit Abuse Impact

America has the world’s costliest legal system. As a percentage of our economy, U.S. legal liability costs are double those of the UK, three times higher than those in France and five times higher than those in Japan. Our nation’s litigation addiction hurts families, businesses, communities, and America's ability to compete for jobs and investment in a global economy. read more...

Just as important, lawsuit abuse harms workers and communities across the United States. Consider: Litigation costs small businesses in America over $100 billion per year.  One in three small business owners report that they have been sued or threatened with a lawsuit – and if sued, more than two-thirds say they would likely have to pass legal costs on to consumers, reduce employee benefits and hold off on hiring new employees. 

In other words, the ultimate victims of lawsuit abuse are consumers (in the form of higher prices) and workers (in the form of lost jobs and benefits).

Consider one example of how lawsuit abuse destroyed a business, killed jobs and decimated a community.

For nearly fifty years, gasoline can manufacturer Blitz USA was a pillar of the small town of Miami, Oklahoma.  They produced 75% of all portable gas cans sold in the United States, and more than 100 families depended on Blitz for their livelihoods. 

But then a small group of plaintiffs’ lawyers put Blitz USA out of business.  These trail lawyers concocted a legal theory that sought to blame Blitz for the handful of injuries caused by misuse of gas cans.  The resulting lawsuits forced the company to close its doors.  Over a hundred workers lost their jobs and benefits, and the town of Miami lost one of its most important employers – while the lawyers made millions. The factory has since reopened under foreign ownership but with fewer jobs.

It’s not just businesses that suffer from frivolous litigation. In Huntington, West Virginia, the local school district removed swings from elementary school playgrounds following a lawsuit.  In Rancho Cordova, California, a local community center was forced to close because of an abusive lawsuit.  In 2011, New York City had to spend $550 million on lawsuit costs – which comes to approximately $70 for every resident of the city.

From workers on a gas can assembly line to kids in a West Virginia playground, the victims of lawsuit abuse are all around us. Little wonder, then, that nine out of ten American voters believe there are too many meritless lawsuits. Policymakers should take note and enact commonsense reforms to improve America’s lawsuit climate.

Research

West Virginia's Climb: Lawsuit Climate Progress in the Mountain State and the Path Ahead

January 10, 2018 | West Virginia has begun shedding its reputation for having one of the worst civil justice systems in the nation. The state's lawsuit climate ranked dead last or second to last in surveys of business executives and attorneys conducted eleven times over the past fifteen years--until 2017. This report explores the beginning of the state's encouraging transformation and highlights areas where it may continue this progress.

ILR Research Review - Fall 2017

November 30, 2017 | This special double-issue of the ILR Research Review features a wealth of insight and analysis on the world's rapidly changing litigation environment. The research contained in this issue targets exploitative litigation at home and abroad, examining numerous developments ranging from hyper-aggressive trial lawyer advertising in the U.S. to the imminent expansion of class actions in Europe.

All Results for Lawsuit Abuse Impact

Chamber Says Product Liability Bill Restores Legal Fairness, Protects Small Business

February 15, 2000 | Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 16, 2000 - Legislation passed by the House of Representatives today will reform product liability laws to protect small businesses from costly and frivolous lawsuits that could jeopardize their future, the United States Chamber of Commerce said. Read More »

Chamber Calls Trial Lawyer Political Contributions a Wake-Up Call for Business

January 23, 2000 | Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 24, 2000 - The United States Chamber Institute for Legal Reform says a new website, "Tracking the Trial Lawyers," tracks how trial lawyers are pouring massive contributions into political campaigns to prevent the election of pro-legal reform candidates. Read More »

ILR's 'Faces of Lawsuit Abuse' Campaign Cited in 'Monkey Selfie' Brief Before Ninth Circuit

December 31, 1969 | News and Blog

Last year, the infamous "Monkey Selfie" lawsuit was dubbed the Most Ridiculous Lawsuit of 2015 by ILR's Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign. Read More »

In the News Today - May 20, 2014

December 31, 1969 | News and Blog

"This is about our justice system becoming a mechanism of high finance," said ILR's Bryan Quigley, in an article in The Tennessean regarding the growing controversy over Third Party Litigation Funding. Read More »

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