With a hat tip to the California Civil Justice Blog, earlier this week Texas enacted a "loser pays" system that proponents say will help rid the system of meritless cases. House Bill 274 takes effect September 1, 2011 and directs the Texas Supreme Court to enact rules providing for the early dismissal of "causes of action that have no basis in law or fact on motion and without evidence." For cases that fall within this "no basis in law or fact" category, the trial court may award the prevailing party costs and "reasonable and necessary attorney's fees . . . that the court determines are equitable and just" whenever it grants or denies a motion to dismiss, in whole or in part.
Given the rulemaking yet to occur and the discretion vested in the trial courts in whether to award fees, the exact contours of this law will take some development, and it remains to be seen whether Texas civil litigants will be ordered to pay attorneys fees rarely or with some frequency. Still, an interesting experiment in civil justice reform that will bear watching.… Continue Reading
The National Law Journal's article "Torts once again on the front burner in the House" discusses the March 24, 2011 U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on tort reform. The hearing, entitled, "Can We Sue Our Way to Prosperity?: Litigation's Effect on America's Global Competitiveness," once again opens the debate regarding the US tort system. Topics included a bill that would cap non-economic damages in cases of medical malpractice, and a hearing on the yet-to-be-introduced Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, a proposal to implement mandatory sanctions of attorneys who violate civil procedure's Rule 11 against filing frivolous claims.… Continue Reading
In February we noted that the perennial "Sunshine in Litigation" bill had been introduced again. The Senate version in S. 623 and the House version is H.R. 592 but there is no real difference. It now is scheduled for consideration in Senate Judiciary on May 5 at 10:00 a.m. A link to the webcast should be available then from the relevant Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and meeting page.… Continue Reading
Law360 is reporting that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is seeking to revive the 2009 "Sunshine in Litigation Act," a bill we covered previously. H.R. 592 would turn around the Supreme Court's Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 33 (1984), which concluded that discovery materials are not public components of a civil trial. As a result, litigation protective orders are permissible to protect the confidential and proprietary information of parties to civil litigation, at least until information produced in discovery is filed with the court or introduced into evidence for determination of a merits issue (such as on a motion for summary judgment or at trial.… Continue Reading
Over at Drug and Device Law Beck and Herrmann muse on the possible impact of a win by Sen. Obama on drug and device law. This blog takes no sides on the election – and this may mean nothing for the future development of the law – but it is interesting to note that in the … Continue Reading
Over at druganddevicelaw.blogspot.com, Jim Beck and Mark Hermann have a comprehensive summary of the current draft version of ALI's Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation, which ALI intends to influence the future of class action litigation in the United States. Despite improvements over the prior draft, Beck and Hermann caution that it "still suffers from the same two fundamental problems that have been there all along: (1) it would do away with predominance as a practical restriction on the types of claims that can be certified as class actions, and (2) it would allow routine certification of what it calls 'common issues' - pieces of litigation or of a cause of action - without regard to the litigation or cause of action as a whole."
Another ALI member who is familiar with the project explains that some in the ALI Members' Consultative Group seemingly fail to appreciate the real-world hardships that classes create for the targeted companies, and labor under the misapprehension that common adjudication should be preferred above all else under the euphemism of judicial efficiency. With more attention focused on the problems with these draft Principles, it is hoped that the project may yet change course.… Continue Reading