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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
9/14/2004--Passed House amended. Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2004 - (Sec. 2) Amends Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to: (1) require courts to impose sanctions on attorneys, law firms, or parties who file frivolous lawsuits (currently, discretionary); (2) disallow the withdrawal or correction of pleadings to avoid Rule 11 sanctions; (3) require courts to award parties prevailing on Rule 11 motions reasonable expenses and attorney's fees, if warranted; (4) authorize courts to impose Rule 11 sanctions that include reimbursement of a party's reasonable litigation costs in connection with frivolous lawsuits; and (5) make the discovery phase of litigation subject to Rule 11 sanctions.
(Sec. 3) Makes Rule 11 applicable to State civil actions where the court determines, upon motion, that the action affects interstate commerce.
(Sec. 4) Requires personal injury claims (defined to exclude class actions) filed in State or Federal court to be filed in the county or Federal district in which: (1) the person bringing the claim resides at the time of filing or resided at the time of the alleged injury; (2) the alleged injury or circumstances giving rise to the injury occurred; or (3) the defendant's principal place of business is located. Directs the trial court to determine which county or Federal district is the most appropriate forum in those situations where the alleged injury occurred in more than one county or district.
(Sec. 6) Requires a mandatory one-year suspension for attorneys determined by a Federal district court to have violated Rule 11 three or more times in that court during the attorney's career. Authorizes the court to suspend such attorneys for an additional period as the court considers appropriate. Gives suspended attorneys the right to appeal and stays suspensions pending appeal. Requires suspended attorneys to petition the court for reinstatement under procedures and conditions prescribed by the court.
(Sec. 7) Imposes civil sanctions commensurate with those sanctions available under Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, in addition to other available civil sanctions, for willfully and intentionally influencing, obstructing, or impeding a pending court proceeding (or attempting to do the same) through the willful and intentional destruction of documents sought in and highly relevant to that proceeding. Makes such sanctions applicable to both Federal and State court proceedings.