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US House debates bill to suspend lawyers filing frivolous suits

[JURIST] Lawyers could be suspended for a year for repeatedly filing frivolous lawsuits under a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives [official website] as part of a Republican effort to limit such lawsuits. Supporters of the legislation say frivolous claims and lawyers that bring them are clogging US courts and driving up healthcare costs around the country. H.R. 420 [bill summary], introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith [official website], would amend Rule 11 [text] of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require a year-long suspension if a lawyer files three frivolous claims in a jurisdiction during his career. The bill also applies upon motion to state actions where the judge determines that the action affects interstate commerce, a provision that the American Bar Association [profession website] has opposed. A similar version of the bill was approved in the House [National Law Journal report] last fall, but the Senate never voted on it. With a full fall calendar this year, the Senate appears unlikely to vote on the new bill again this year. The Judicial Conference of the United States [official website] has also opposed the legislation, arguing that mandatory punishment for frivolous claims had failed to work in an earlier version of the rule. AP has more.

5:53 PM ET - The US House approved the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2005 [PDF text] Thursday afternoon by a vote of 228-184. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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