It is no secret that frivolous litigation has skyrocketed in recent years. As more and more personal injury trial lawyers seek to use and abuse our legal system for their own personal gain, lawsuit filings have gone through the roof. We see the evidence of this all day everyday. Everywhere we look, we are bombarded by aggressive legal advertising. From car wrecks to class actions, solicitations from personal injury law firms dominate our local TV airwaves — not to mention what fills the radio and is plastered on billboards and bus exteriors.
It is time to put an end to the all-you-can-eat-lawsuit-buffet that has been allowed to prosper over the last decade. Louisiana citizens, small businesses, companies and manufacturers deserve protection from frivolous class actions and asbestos lawsuits that are clogging our courts and weighing down our economy.
That’s why Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch supports H.R. 985, a bill that combines the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency acts into a major reform bill that will help stop lawsuit abuse and improve our civil justice system in ways that will benefit everyone.
By incentivizing lawyers to do the best work for their clients, HR 985 will help ensure fairer, more efficient outcomes for claimants and defendants in class action litigation. Class actions are supposed to benefit and protect consumers. But if you “follow the money,” they often don’t. In recent years, LLAW has highlighted many different high profile class action lawsuits that resulted in millions for the lawyers and pennies on the dollar for victims. Our courts should be used to make victims whole, not to make personal injury lawyers rich. HR 985 will help ensure that is the way the system actually works.
Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LAWW) Executive Director Melissa Landry Photo courtesy of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch
By shining a light on the asbestos bankruptcy trust system, it will discourage opportunistic personal injury lawyers from filing false or exaggerated claims that take away from resources that should be used to pay future victims. Important provisions in the bill will also help protect veterans and others sickened by asbestos by requiring trust funds to disclose information on claims made to the trusts while taking measures to protect claimants’ personal information. By weeding out bad actors that are abusing the current system, these common sense reforms will preserve existing funds and ensure all deserving future claimants receive the maximum relief for their illnesses and injuries.
H.R. 985 passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March and is awaiting action in the Senate. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is a member, recently held a hearing on this issue.
Clearly, Louisiana businesses and consumers will benefit from the reforms included in HR 985. Now is the time for Sen. Kennedy to come forward and publicly support this bill in order for it to have a chance of becoming law this session.
Melissa Landry is executive director of the non-partisan, grassroots legal watchdog group Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch. For more information about LLAW’s efforts to restore common sense and fairness to Louisiana’s civil justice system, visit www.LLAW.org.