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Public Statements

Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 2655, the so-called ``Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act.''

This is a misleading title and a misleading bill. A plaintiff courageously seeking to stand up to civil rights violations, equal protections violations, or voting rights infringement IS NOT abusing anything: she's exercising her rights enshrined in the Constitution.

When I practiced law in California, I know that those I represented--from victims of workplace discrimination to women athlete scholars looking for equal opportunities--would have been hurt by this bill, and their cases may never have been heard.
Ordering sanctions should be at the discretion of the judge, not Congress. This bill would reverse the good judgment and counsel of the Judicial Conference of the United States and the Supreme Court, both of which recommended the change twenty years ago.

Our Courts are a great equalizer; the courtroom is often the only place that a plaintiff can find a fair and equal footing with employers, corporations, and even their government.

This bill would have a chilling effect on the ability of Americans to find justice for civil rights violations, employment discrimination claims, privacy suits, equal protection violations, voting rights claims, consumer protection claims, and so much more.
The changes proposed in this bill would negatively impact cases where the bulk of the evidence rests with one party, disproportionately impacting plaintiffs in civil rights and consumer protection litigation.

This bill would also negatively impact civil cases that involve new legal theories, meaning that landmark cases in our nation's history may never have made it to the Supreme Court; cases like Brown v. Board of Education, Griswald v. Connecticut, Massachusetts v. EPA.

If my colleagues are serious about reforming the legal system, I would be very interested in working with them. There are abusive litigation tactics by both plaintiffs and defendants, and we could work in a responsible, bipartisan manner to address those. But this bill is not a serious attempt to level the playing field or to curb real abuses. Instead, it puts Congress' thumb on one side of the scale of justice.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.

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