Business Groups Renew Push for Attorney Sanctions

Representatives of two major business groups say Congress should revive a change in the federal rules of civil procedure in order to discourage what they call frivolous lawsuits against small companies.

The push came today from the legal arms of the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Lawyers for the groups submitted testimony for a hearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee that is considering the proposed change to the section of federal Rule 11 dealing with sanctions against lawyers.

Victor Schwartz, a partner at Shook, Hardy & Bacon who specializes in tort defense and works with the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, wrote that there are three reasons Rule 11 is ineffective for defendants: first, the “safe harbor” provision allowing a plaintiff’s lawyer to withdraw a lawsuit within 21 days of a sanctions motion; second, the wide discretion judges have in whether to impose sanctions; and third, the lack of sanctions intended to compensate defendants, as opposed to those intended to deter future frivolous lawsuits ...

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