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Tort reform bills placed on U.S. House schedule; could be considered next week

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Nov 8, 2013

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. House of Representatives could consider two tort reform bills next week.

Both the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act have been placed on the House's schedule, according to

The Hill reported Tuesday that House Republicans will "call up" the bills next week.

LARA, or House Resolution 2655, imposes mandatory sanctions on lawyers who file meritless suits in federal court.

Specifically, the bill:

- Reinstates sanctions for the violation of Rule 11. Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure was originally intended to deter frivolous lawsuits by sanctioning the offending party;

- Ensures that judges impose monetary sanctions against lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits, including the attorney's fees and costs incurred by the victim of the frivolous lawsuit; and

- Reverses the 1993 amendments to Rule 11 that allow parties and their attorneys to avoid sanctions for making frivolous claims by withdrawing them within 21 days after a motion for sanctions has been served.

The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, in September.

"LARA encourages attorneys to think twice before filing frivolous lawsuits," Smith said at the time.

The FACT Act, or House Resolution 982, requires more transparency from asbestos trusts. The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, in May.

The legislation would require asbestos personal injury settlement trusts authorized by federal bankruptcy law to disclose information on their claims on a quarterly basis and respond to information requests from parties to asbestos litigation.

The bill also would require the trusts to file public reports providing information with each claim for compensation they receive and would require the trusts to provide information about claims to parties in an asbestos suit upon request.

"The FACT Act is common-sense legislation that is designed to promote transparency, discourage fraud, and ensure that funds meant to benefit legitimate future asbestos victims are not used to pay abusive claims," House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., said in May, according to The Hill.

"If asbestos trusts are to have assets available to pay the claims of deserving future claimants tomorrow, Congress must take steps to assure that trust assets will be better protected today."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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