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
A federal appeals court rejected a novel "negotiation class" comprised of all cities and counties suing them over the nationwide opioid crisis settlement, according to a report in Law.com. ... Read More
McDonald's is facing a proposed class action in California federal court over its soft serve according to a report in Law360. The suit filed by Scott Craig Borison of Borison Firm LLC and Spencer Sheehan of Sheehan & Associates PC is the latest in a series of false ad suits centering on vanilla-flavored ice cream products.... Read More
In a split decision, the Ninth Circuit panel affirmed the approval of a $14.5 million attorney fee award in a class action over Bank of America's overdraft fees, with a dissenting judge criticizing the deal for awarding class counsel fees that come out to $6,700 per hour, according to a report in Law360.... Read More
Gilead Sciences Inc. has asked a California federal court to admonish a plaintiff's firm representing people who have taken the anti-HIV drug Truvada and related products, alleging that the firm's ads regarding the drug's effects ... 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.