Lately, there have been laws proposed on the federal level that seek to limit the power of the citizen against giant corporations and insurance companies. These multi-billion dollar companies, driven by greed, have teamed up with lobbyist in an attempt to prevent everyday people from .
The reason we have a civil court system is to protect the “little guy” from the “big guy”. It’s to hold companies, doctors, and manufacturers accountable for their actions and to punish them when they negligently or intently hurt their consumers or clients.
Four bills have recently reached varying stages of progression through our US House of Representatives recently. They have done so with no hearing and in a rushed manner, so as to slip them past the American people and into law, before anyone who is negatively affected knows what hit them.
The Representatives and lobbyists who have allowed these actions to progress need to be told that we will not stand for these actions. They must hear that we do not agree.
Politicians and lobbyists who are beholden to large corporations are using these four bills to weaken the American people’s right to civil proceedings and to bolster these powerful companies’ grip on profits.
These plans, if passed, will do just that. H.R. 985, 725, 720, and 1215 are carefully worded and directed in a manner that seeks to limit lawsuits; reduce a plaintiffs case; destroy class-actions; and relieve doctors, hospitals, and from accountability.
H.R. 985 So-called “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017”
H.R. 985, inappropriately titled the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017” will weaken America’s civil rights laws and bring into questions thousands of settled class action lawsuits. While they’re at it, proponents of this bill will greatly hinder the disenfranchised and the sick by slipping in a measure that severely hurts asbestos victims.
H.R. 985, for all practical purposes, would make filing and participating in a class action lawsuit impossible. Since directly making this form of justice illegal would not go over very well, the drafters have found a sneakier, but equally effective, way to bring this plan to fruition.
Class action lawsuits are intended to compensate plaintiffs who have been by a defendant on a mass scale. They do this by allowing people to come together and challenge the actions of a giant company when they harm, cheat, or violate a mass amount of people. Quite simply, it holds them accountable. This legislation would end that.
H.R. 985 does this by imposing a new and unmanageable hurdle for class certification (when a group of people are recognized as eligible for the lawsuit). This bill requires that those representing the class demonstrate that each class member has suffered the “same type and scope of injury.” But one must understand that this is nearly impossible; the drafters of the bill do.
No two class members or their injuries are the same. The scope of their injuries is often not the exact same either. They may be similar, but this new bill could easily be interpreted to require identicalness. Likewise, the new bill would also require the proponents of the suit to know every person who is going to file before they case can be assembled. Often, class members join later as they realize the harm that has been done to them.
H.R. 985 would also subject asbestos victims to long delays in their payments, ensuring that many of the sufferers who deserve compensation will not see that money until they’re dead. Likewise, this bill wants to make their information available to the public through internet records, opening the sick and elderly to all kinds of scams and theft.
H.R. 725 So-called “Innocent Party Protection Act”
H.R. 725 seeks to override some individual state laws regarding lawsuits by forcing all civil cases to federal courts. Attorneys and their clients often make the decision about which court to bring their case to, State or Federal, based on varying circumstances. No longer will they have that option if this bill goes through.
H.R. 725, also known as the “Innocent Party Protection Act” seeks to change the current fraudulent joinder standard to make it more difficult to prove that a party in the lawsuit had the case improperly removed out of the correct court to benefit themselves. This type of legislation rewards deceitful behavior and makes winning a case fairly, more difficult.
This bill will clog up the desks of federal courts and make filing a lawsuit on the individual level unnecessarily difficult and costly. Simply, it wants to make filing a lawsuit inconvenient and expensive so as to deter potential filers.
H.R. 720 So-called “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act”
H.R. 720, the so-called “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” is another measured to limit accountability by reducing the compensation that injured victims receive. This bill would change federal rules to take power and authority away from judges by removing all discretion currently provided to them when it comes to whether or not to sanction a frivolous claim or an error on paperwork. Sanctions would become mandatory instead of discretionary as they are now. But this bill is not about , it’s about getting rid of anything that might cost these billionaires money.
Rule 11, which would now be mandatory under this bill, ensures that attorneys are held accountable for any documents they produce for their clients. Since sanctions would now become forced, H.R. 720 would eliminate an attorney’s right to correct his error. The sanctions would also force the offending party’s pleadings to be thrown out and the lawsuit dismissed if an error is found (currently attorneys have 21 days to fix things). It’s a way to make a mistake ruin any chances of compensation.
H.R. 1215 So-called “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017”
H.R. 1215 may be the most egregious of the four bills since it seeks to greatly reduce a persons’ ability to be compensated when they are injured are by the very people they expect to keep them safe. The so-called “Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017” would limit compensation for injuries caused by medical professionals, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and medical device manufacturers to $250,000, regardless of how much damage the injury has caused or how negligent the medical company was.
This cap would apply to non-economic damages, like paralysis, reproductive harm, and sexual trauma. If passed, the cap will be mandated in states even where such caps are unconstitutional. This rule would apply no matter how egregious or horrendous the actions, brain damage, on a child, death of a spouse—if it was done by a medical provider they cannot pay any more than $250,000 for their actions.
Currently, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer. Despite the cap on compensation for people severely injured, this bill goes on and on in ways that it will harm the negligently injured and contribute to seeing that third spot rise to number two or one.
H.R. 1215 would also seek to:
- Implement a federal statute of limitations on and cases, which would override state laws and dramatically limit the amount of time someone has to seek compensation.
- Repeal state collateral source rules, which translates to the wrongdoer reducing their responsibility to compensate a patient by using any disability, , or other insurance payments they have received to lower what they have to pay. Currently, these payments have no bearing on how much the wrongdoer owes for their actions.
- Repeal of some liability laws which would require the injured patients, rather than other wrongdoers, to cover the cost of an injury if the sued wrongdoer cannot pay. Basically, if the company or doctor can’t pay, it’s up to the injured to figure it out.
- Allowing those who are ordered to pay to do so in payments rather than paying the injured party in a lump sum. This would leave the patient under-compensated while the insurance company gets to recoup some of their losses by collecting interest on the money they should have paid the victim.
- Interfere with a person’s right to negotiate their own attorney on fees in a medical malpractice case while the insurance company or hospital that committed malpractice gets to pay as much or as little as they want.
We Must Stand Up for Our Civil Rights against Corporations
We must tell our government to stop limiting our civil rights. We must have protection against giant corporations, lobbyists, and the politicians that support them. Take time to demand that your representatives support you in this effort. Follow these links to find out who represents your and easy ways to contact them.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is interested in protecting the rights of the citizen against negligence and maliciousness wherever it’s found. We believe that a civil court proceeding, including lawsuits and class actions, are everybody’s right.