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

Trial Lawyer Marketing: Broadcast, Search and Social Strategies

October 27, 2015 | This study presents findings that highlight the highly-sophisticated and well-orchestrated marketing tactics of the plaintiffs' bar, including television advertising and the use of social media.

MDL Proceedings: Eliminating the Chaff

October 27, 2015 | This paper suggests procedural improvements to weed out dubious and fraudulent claims in the early stages of multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings to prevent them from becoming "lawsuit magnets."

Additional Resources

All Results for Lawsuit Abuse Impact

In the News Today - August 29, 2016

August 29, 2016 | News and Blog

The Wall Street Journal editorial board gave credit to Judge Percy Anderson for tossing a lawsuit against Starbucks that alleged "baristas put too much ice in cold drinks." Read More »

Monumental Issues: President of ILR Talks Abusive Lawsuits

August 25, 2016 | News and Blog

Lisa Rickard, president of ILR, participated in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Monumental Issues video series. Rickard spoke in front of President Lincoln's cottage in Washington, D.C. about lawsuit abuse and the need for legal reform. Read More »

In the News Today - August 24, 2016

August 24, 2016 | News and Blog

Johnson & Johnson believes it has "strong grounds" to appeal two multimillion-dollar jury verdicts that alleged a link between the company's talcum powder product and ovarian cancer. Read More »

Monkey Business Coming to Ninth Circuit, Courtesy of PETA

August 18, 2016 | News and Blog

Last year's "Most Ridiculous Lawsuit" - over the infamous "Monkey Selfies" - is still making its way through the court system. Read More »

Monkey Business Coming to Ninth Circuit, Courtesy of PETA

August 17, 2016 | News and Blog

Last year's "Most Ridiculous Lawsuit" -- over the infamous "Monkey Selfies" -- is still making its way through the court system. Read More »

Rickard Op-Ed: How lawyers scare people out of taking their meds

August 05, 2016 | News and Blog

ILR President Lisa A. Rickard published an op-ed in the Washington Post regarding the impact of plaintiffs' attorney ads "which seek plaintiffs for lawsuits against drug and medical-device manufacturers." Read More »

Criminal Trial of Texas Plaintiffs' Attorney to Begin Today over Gulf Oil Spill Fraud Allegations

July 18, 2016 | News and Blog

The criminal trial of Texas plaintiffs' attorney Mikal Watts is set to begin today. Read More »

FedEx Fights the Feds -- and Wins

June 23, 2016 | News and Blog

Good news for all those sending graduation presents this month to your loved ones: FedEx won't be forced to open your packages to ensure you are sending only legal items! Read More »

6 Reasons We Should be Concerned about Federal Prosecutors Run Amok

June 22, 2016 | News and Blog

Last week, the federal government was in the middle of a trial against FedEx Corp. when it suddenly told the judge it wanted to drop its $1.6 billion case against the shipping giant alleging illegal shipments of online prescriptions. It took two years - and likely tens of millions of dollars - but FedEx fought the law, and won. Read More »

ILR State Allies Blog Series: Illinois Civil Justice League

June 03, 2016 | News and Blog

Fighting the good fight to help fix Illinois' abusive lawsuit climate is the Illinois Civil Justice League, which has been a valued partner in the legal reform effort for more than 20 years. Read More »

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