The federal government and the states each play an important role in addressing the problem of lawsuit abuse. Many important legal reforms have been enacted and implemented at the federal level, ensuring reliable national standards that give businesses the predictability they need in order to operate.
Pending legislation in Congress would help restore balance to America's civil justice system. These include national preemptive data privacy legislation, asbestos litigation reform, and disclosure of third-party funding arrangements, among others. In addition, the unprecedented situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic is ringing liability-related alarm bills on both sides of Capitol Hill as well as with the Executive Branch. For more detail see the COVID-19 Litigation Issues page.
Beyond the fight in Congress regarding legal reform measures, some Departments of the Executive Branch have promulgated internal reforms that are designed to ensure fairness and due process in enforcement actions. For example, both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Justice have announced that their civil enforcement actions must be based on clear statutory or regulatory authority. The Justice Department also has adopted policies to encourage corporate compliance programs and cooperation in investigations; these policies will increase corporate adherence to regulatory requirements and preserve finite government resources. For more detail see the Over-Enforcement page.
Finally, there is a need to defend against efforts by the plaintiffs’ bar to expand liability in Congress, federal courts, and regulatory agencies. For example, the trial bar is working to increase class action litigation, eliminate the availability of pre-dispute arbitration agreements and increase liability against product manufacturers.
Private rights of action (PRAs) are highly problematic: the plaintiffs' bar benefits significantly from America's lawsuit system, while consumers are left with little. PRAs are especially poor tools for addressing privacy issues, which are better left to regulators with relevant expertise and perspective to shape and balance penalties, deterrence, innovation, and consumer protection. Read More
Multidistrict litigation proceedings (MDLs) were created as an efficient way to handle pretrial proceedings in hundreds or thousands of similar cases against the same defendant. Unfortunately, MDLs also give plaintiffs an unfair advantage when it comes to appeals. If a defendant makes a dispositive motion-on preemption or expert evidence, for example-and is denied, it won't normally have access to immediate appeal. But if the defendant wins the motion, plaintiffs can appeal right away. This paper argues for courts to give MDL plaintiffs and defendants equal access to appellate review. Read More
On Monday, Deputy Associate Attorney General Stephen Cox of the Department of Justice announced that the Department is considering requiring whistleblowers to tell DOJ about any agreements they've struck with litigation funders, according to a report in Reuters. ... Read More
Bayer AG recently announced it would pay $10.5 billion to settle tens of thousands of lawsuits claiming Roundup weed killer causes cancer. After the checks clear, Roundup will remain on the market. Millions of consumers and farmers will continue using the product because, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and regulators around the world, Roundup doesn't cause cancer.... Read More
This edition of the ILR Research Review contains research examining the myriad liability challenges flowing from COVID-19 and describing potential administrative and legislative solutions, as well as papers dedicated to the ongoing crisis in securities litigation, the growth of and problems with the third party litigation funding industry, and insights into the strategy behind trial lawyer advertising.... Read More
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The 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States was conducted for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform by The Harris Poll to explore how fair and reasonable state liability systems are perceived to be by U.S. businesses.