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H.R. 4571 (108th): Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2004

The text of the bill below is as of Sep 14, 2004 (Passed the House).


HR 4571 EH

108th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4571


AN ACT

To amend Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to improve attorney accountability, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2004’.

SEC. 2. ATTORNEY ACCOUNTABILITY.

    Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is amended--

      (1) in subdivision (c)--

        (A) by amending the first sentence to read as follows: ‘If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the attorney, law firm, or parties that have violated this subdivision or are responsible for the violation, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to the other party or parties to pay for the reasonable expenses incurred as a direct result of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper, that is the subject of the violation, including a reasonable attorney’s fee.’;

        (B) in paragraph (1)(A)--

          (i) by striking ‘Rule 5’ and all that follows through ‘corrected.’ and inserting ‘Rule 5.’; and

          (ii) by striking ‘the court may award’ and inserting ‘the court shall award’; and

        (C) in paragraph (2), by striking ‘shall be limited to what is sufficient’ and all that follows through the end of the paragraph (including subparagraphs (A) and (B)) and inserting ‘shall be sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated, and to compensate the parties that were injured by such conduct. The sanction may consist of an order to pay to the party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred as a direct result of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper that is the subject of the violation, including a reasonable attorney’s fee.’; and

      (2) by striking subdivision (d).

SEC. 3. APPLICABILITY OF RULE 11 TO STATE CASES AFFECTING INTERSTATE COMMERCE.

    In any civil action in State court, the court, upon motion, shall determine within 30 days after the filing of such motion whether the action affects interstate commerce. Such court shall make such determination based on an assessment of the costs to the interstate economy, including the loss of jobs, were the relief requested granted. If the court determines such action affects interstate commerce, the provisions of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply to such action.

SEC. 4. PREVENTION OF FORUM-SHOPPING.

    (a) In General- Subject to subsection (b), a personal injury claim filed in State or Federal court may be filed only in the State and, within that State, in the county (or Federal district) in which--

      (1) the person bringing the claim, including an estate in the case of a decedent and a parent or guardian in the case of a minor or incompetent--

        (A) resides at the time of filing; or

        (B) resided at the time of the alleged injury; or

      (2) the alleged injury or circumstances giving rise to the personal injury claim allegedly occurred; or

      (3) the defendant’s principal place of business is located.

    (b) Determination of Most Appropriate Forum- If a person alleges that the injury or circumstances giving rise to the personal injury claim occurred in more than one county (or Federal district), the trial court shall determine which State and county (or Federal district) is the most appropriate forum for the claim. If the court determines that another forum would be the most appropriate forum for a claim, the court shall dismiss the claim. Any otherwise applicable statute of limitations shall be tolled beginning on the date the claim was filed and ending on the date the claim is dismissed under this subsection.

    (c) Definitions- In this section:

      (1) The term ‘personal injury claim’--

        (A) means a civil action brought under State law by any person to recover for a person’s personal injury, illness, disease, death, mental or emotional injury, risk of disease, or other injury, or the costs of medical monitoring or surveillance (to the extent such claims are recognized under State law), including any derivative action brought on behalf of any person on whose injury or risk of injury the action is based by any representative party, including a spouse, parent, child, or other relative of such person, a guardian, or an estate; and

        (B) does not include a claim brought as a class action.

      (2) The term ‘person’ means any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, joint stock company, or any other entity, but not any governmental entity.

      (3) The term ‘State’ includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, and any other territory or possession of the United States.

    (d) Applicability- This section applies to any personal injury claim filed in Federal or State court on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 5. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

    Nothing in section 3 or in the amendments made by section 2 shall be construed to bar or impede the assertion or development of new claims or remedies under Federal, State, or local civil rights law.

SEC. 6. THREE-STRIKES RULE FOR SUSPENDING ATTORNEYS WHO COMMIT MULTIPLE RULE 11 VIOLATIONS.

    (a) Mandatory Suspension- Whenever a Federal district court determines that an attorney has violated Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court shall determine the number of times that the attorney has violated that rule in that Federal district court during that attorney’s career. If the court determines that the number is 3 or more, the Federal district court--

      (1) shall suspend that attorney from the practice of law in that Federal district court for 1 year; and

      (2) may suspend that attorney from the practice of law in that Federal district court for any additional period that the court considers appropriate.

    (b) APPEAL; STAY- An attorney has the right to appeal a suspension under subsection (a). While such an appeal is pending, the suspension shall be stayed.

    (c) Reinstatement- To be reinstated to the practice of law in a Federal district court after completion of a suspension under subsection (a), the attorney must first petition the court for reinstatement under such procedures and conditions as the court may prescribe.

SEC. 7. ENHANCED SANCTIONS FOR DOCUMENT DESTRUCTION.

    (a) In General- Whoever willfully and intentionally influences, obstructs, or impedes, or attempts to influence, obstruct, or impede, a pending court proceeding through the willful and intentional destruction of documents sought in, and highly relevant to, that proceeding shall be punished with mandatory civil sanctions of a degree commensurate with the civil sanctions available under Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, in addition to any other civil sanctions that otherwise apply.

    (b) Applicability- This section applies to any court proceeding in any Federal or State court.

Passed the House of Representatives September 14, 2004.

Attest:

Clerk.