February 13, 2017: Congress Should Reject 'LARA' to Avoid Repeating Mistakes of the Past, Urges New York State Bar Association President Claire Gutekunst

New York State Bar President Claire P. Gutekunst today issued the following statement: 

“We urge Congress to reject a bill (S.237, H.R. 720) that misleadingly is labeled the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA).

“The bill’s supporters assert that it would discourage the filing of ‘frivolous lawsuits.’  In fact, by reinstating a sanctions regime that policymakers wisely repealed nearly 25 years ago, it would again encourage unnecessary motion practice and increase the cost and length of litigation.

“Enactment of this legislation would be bad public policy.  It would restore a broken system in effect from 1983 to 1993.  Under the prior rule, federal lawsuits often became entangled with unnecessary litigation over sanctions—curtailing the efficiency of the courts, adding to litigation costs and delaying the resolution of cases.

That decade of experience led to repeal and replacement with the current sanctions rule, which allows a party to seek sanctions for frivolous litigation or motions but provides an opportunity for the other party to withdraw or amend its papers and thus to resolve the dispute without court involvement, thereby avoiding unnecessary litigation but still providing for court intervention where needed.

“This bill would reinstitute the destructive practices under the prior rule.  Congress should learn from experience and not repeat a mistake of the past.”

The 72,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.

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Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen 
Director, Media Services
lbang-jensen@nysba.org
518-487-5530