H.R. 720 amends Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to improve attorney accountability by restoring mandatory sanctions for filing frivolous lawsuits, in an effort to protect individuals and businesses from unnecessary legal costs. Specifically, the bill:
(1) restores mandatory sanctions for filing frivolous lawsuits in violation of Rule 11;
(2) removes Rule 11’s ‘‘safe harbor’’ provision that currently allows parties and their attorneys to avoid sanctions for making frivolous claims by withdrawing frivolous claims after a motion for sanctions has been filed; and,
(3) requires monetary sanctions, including attorneys’ fees and compensatory costs, against any party making a frivolous claim.
The bill also specifies that nothing contained within ‘‘shall be construed to bar or impede the assertion or development of new claims, defenses, or remedies under Federal, State, or local laws, including civil rights laws, or under the Constitution.’’
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 10, 2017.
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The expanded summary of the House reported version is repeated here.)
Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the sanctions provisions in Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require the court to impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that has violated, or is responsible for the violation of, the rule with regard to representations to the court. Any sanction must compensate parties injured by the conduct in question.
The bill removes a provision that prohibits filing a motion for sanctions if the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, or denial is withdrawn or appropriately corrected within 21 days after service or within another time the court sets.
Courts may impose additional sanctions, including striking the pleadings, dismissing the suit, nonmonetary directives, or penalty payments if warranted for effective deterrence.