Summary: H.R.420 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (10/27/2005)

Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2005 - (Sec. 2) Amends Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Signing of Pleadings, Motions, and Other Papers; Representations to Court; Sanctions) to: (1) require courts to impose sanctions on attorneys, law firms, or parties who file frivolous lawsuits (currently, discretionary); (2) disallow the withdrawal or correction of pleadings to avoid Rule 11 sanctions; (3) require courts to award parties prevailing on Rule 11 motions reasonable expenses and attorney's fees, if warranted; and (4) authorize courts to impose Rule 11 sanctions that include reimbursement of a party's reasonable litigation costs in connection with frivolous lawsuits.

(Sec. 3) Makes Rule 11 applicable to state civil actions where the state court determines, upon motion, that an action substantially affects interstate commerce.

(Sec. 4) Requires personal injury claims (defined to exclude class actions and personal injury claims brought against a debtor in bankruptcy proceedings) filed in state or federal court to be filed in the county or federal district in which: (1) the person bringing the claim resides at the time of filing or resided at the time of the alleged injury; (2) the alleged injury or circumstances giving rise to the Claim occurred; (3) the defendant's principal place of business is located; or (4) the defendant resides, if the defendant is an individual. Directs the trial court to determine which county or federal district is the most appropriate forum in those situations where the alleged injury occurred in more than one county or district.

(Sec. 6) Requires a federal district court to suspend from the practice of law for one year (or for an additional period at the court's discretion) an attorney who is found to have violated Rule 11 three or more times. Grants such attorney a right to appeal a suspension and permits reinstatement after suspension under procedures and conditions prescribed by the court.

(Sec. 7) Establishes a rebuttable presumption that an attempt to litigate, in any forum, a claim or defense involving the same plaintiff and defendant that has been litigated and lost on three consecutive prior occasions is a Rule 11 violation.

(Sec. 8) Imposes additional sanctions for the willful and intentional destruction of documents sought pursuant to the rules of, and highly relevant to, a federal court proceeding.

(Sec. 9) Requires public disclosure of the record of a Rule 11 proceeding unless the presiding judge determines that the interest justifying nondisclosure of the record outweighs any public health and safety interests served by disclosure. Exempts from disclosure records subject to the attorney-client or other recognized privilege, or state or federal laws that protect the confidentiality of crime victims, including victims of sexual abuse.