LAWSUIT ABUSE REDUCTION ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - October 27, 2005)
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Mr. BARROW. Mr. Speaker, if bills in this Chamber required names that accurately describe their consequences, this bill would best be called the Frivolous Litigation Proliferation Act and not the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act.
Many of us who oppose the underlying bill do so because it will actually increase the volume of frivolous litigation. For example, some sort of Rule 11 procedure exists in virtually every State in the country. To impose a new Federal law in every State court action will make State courts conduct a minilawsuit on Federal validity before conducting a minilawsuit on State law validity, before they ever get to the merits of the case. A lawsuit within a lawsuit within a lawsuit. Mr. Speaker, that is as absurd as it sounds.
If Members think that there are too many frivolous lawsuits against good, honest corporations, and the only way to fix this is to make it harder for everyone to sue anyone, and that this bill is the only way to do it, then vote for the bill.
But if there is one area where we do not have a problem with too many frivolous lawsuits, it is with lawsuits against price gougers. And if there is any area where we want to make it easier to get to the merits of the underlying claim, not harder, it is an area of lawsuits against Federal contractors who are engaged in defrauding the public.
Right now the government is awash in government contracts awarded on a no-bid basis. Whether it is disaster relief or the war on terror, we have never done so much of the public's business on a no-bid basis. There has never been more opportunity for waste, fraud, and abuse in the conduct of the public's business than right now.
This motion to recommit gives us one opportunity to protect our constituents from price gougers. The motion to recommit is simple. It says that Federal contractors, engaged in price gouging in disaster relief work can still be sued anyplace where they can be sued now, in any State where both the laws of the State and the U.S. Constitution says it is okay to sue them.
The underlying bill gives price gougers extra protections, the same benefits that we are extending to honest corporations. One such protection, the only one addressed by this motion to recommit, is the right to avoid lawsuits in States where the Constitution says it is okay to seek justice. Since price gougers do not deserve this protection, and since they do not need this protection, they should not get this protection.
This House has voted time and again to protect companies that are gouging consumers in the wake of natural disasters and national tragedies. If Members vote against this motion to recommit, they are voting to give the same special protections that we give to honest corporations to Federal contractors who are engaged in price gouging in public relief work.
Mr. Speaker, the folks I represent back home in Georgia want relief from price gougers, not relief for price gougers. For that reason I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense and limited motion to recommit.
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