Challenges Plaintiffs Face Under Trump Administration – Today’s guest blog is by Attorney Ben Bronston of Ben Bronston & Associates. The opinions expressed by the author in this and all guest blogs are not necessarily those of The Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm.
Lawsuit Reform – What Can You Expect?
With the election and subsequent inauguration of Donald Trump as the newest President of the United States, little doubt lies in anyone’s mind regarding the momentous changes to both law and policy that are likely to take place. For plaintiff-side attorneys in civil law, some of these changes could be detrimental to future cases for both themselves and their clients. There is a hovering expectation regarding tort reform that would likely discourage plaintiffs from taking cases to court.
Despite his own history of filing what others have labeled “frivolous lawsuits,” President Trump is expected to be approached with legislation from the Republican party that would effectively make filing lawsuits more difficult. Some commentators predict legislation that would reflect back on the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2015 (at the time it was introduced, it was known as H.R. 758). Indeed, the bill was effectively reintroduced and passed a House vote on March 10, 2017. This bill amends Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. With this change, courts would not only continue to be permitted to impose monetary sanctions against representative attorneys, but they would actually be required by law to do so. The bill would also remove the provision that enables plaintiffs to withdraw frivolous claims should a motion for these monetary sanctions be made.
So what does this mean? The short answer is it could make a lot of plaintiffs and their attorneys think twice about attempting to bring a civil suit to court, as the risk of being held accountable for a frivolous lawsuit would be higher due to the inability to withdraw a claim once it has been filed. While there are those who see the validity of the bill, others like representatives of the American Bar Association believed that passing this bill would play out as objectively detrimental to the court system and, “impede the administration of justice by encouraging additional litigation over sanctions motions, which would increase, not reduce, court costs and delays.”
Another feared change under the Trump administration involves the reform of class action lawsuits. According to H.R. 985 (Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017), a class action would be required to prove the same type and severity of injuries suffered among all members of the represented class before being awarded monetary damages.
Some groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights believe this legislation could potentially negatively impact the application of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding class actions, while others believe its passage would be more likely to benefit large corporations and businesses. Linda Lipsen of the American Association for Justice says H.R. 985 could very well “take away citizen’s rights to form a class and take on Goliath corporations.” She goes on to say there would be “fewer consequences for a company’s dishonest dealings and that, in the future, a corporation may well decide it’s better for the bottom line to lie to their customers than to fix a serious problem.”
Paired with this legislation is the Further Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (H.R. 906). This legislation, as suggested by its title, would make public the payment details for plaintiffs in asbestos exposure-related lawsuits by trusts that represent bankrupt companies. This act would require quarterly reports from asbestos trusts to be filed with bankruptcy courts. Some organizations believe this would do more harm than good as it would affect the privacy of asbestos-related victims.
There are a number of other feared policy changes that plaintiffs are awaiting or actively fighting against, many of which – at a glance – seem to favor big business and complicate the road to justice for individuals with fewer resources. Proposals for limitations on medical malpractice suits could see results similar to legislation regarding frivolous lawsuits, making plaintiffs more wary about bringing cases to court for the fear of monetary retribution. Reform to legislation regarding class action lawsuits, such as Rule 23, could also cause limitations on protection for civil rights. With the addition of other policy reform proposals, plaintiffs and their lawyers will have no shortage of new challenges to hurdle in the near future.
For over two decades, Ben Bronston has been an advocate for the rights of victims that have been injured due to someone else’s neglect or wrongful actions. With law offices in Corpus Christi, Texas, Ben has helped numerous clients by obtaining monetary damages for their injuries, including damages for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses. Please visit Ben’s website here: https://361lawyers.com/
Challenges Plaintiffs Face Under Trump Administration