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Author Topic: NE2: Northeast Harassing and Frivolous Lawsuit Prevention Act [Signed]  (Read 1619 times)
AverroŽs Nix
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« on: April 30, 2012, 12:26:11 pm »
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The Assembly will now consider the following legislation introduced by the Representative from Massachusetts.  Debate will last 72 hours.

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Northeast Harassing and Frivolous Lawsuit Prevention Act

1.  Three Litigation Review Panels, a Boston panel representing New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), a New York City panel representing New York, and a Philadelphia panel representing the Mid-Atlantic (Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) shall be established.  Each panel shall consist of three judges, chosen randomly and rotated every three months.  Judges may choose to decline service on the Litigation Review Panel, in which case a different judge will be chosen to serve.

2.  a.  All plaintiffs shall be asked, as a condition of filing a lawsuit, to write a short summary of the complaint, no more than 1 page in single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font on 8.5x11 paper with 1 inch margins.  Defendants may issue short rebuttals following the same regulations, provided they are submitted before the Litigation Review Panel reviews the case.

b.  The Litigation Review Panels shall review all such summaries as soon as they are filed, and may choose to allow the cases to go to trial, dismiss the case without prejudice by a simple majority of two, or dismiss the case with prejudice and/or order the plaintiff to pay the defendant's legal fees by a unanimous vote of three.

3.  If a judge has a conflict of interest on a case submitted to his or her Litigation Review Panel, it shall be submitted to one of the other two Litigation Review Panels for review.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2012, 11:14:21 am by AverroŽs Nix »Logged

Emperor Scott
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 01:42:51 pm »
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I can't help but fear this could lead to abuse.
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Lincoln Republican
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2012, 09:43:44 pm »
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Does the honorable member from Massachusetts have any statistics regarding harassment and frivolous lawsuits that would warrant such legislation?

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Napoleon
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2012, 09:44:50 pm »
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I would like to see arguments in favor of this bill before I form a solid opinion, and second Representative Winfield's request as well.
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AverroŽs Nix
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 09:56:08 pm »
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While not necessarily opposed to this bill, I will not vote in its favor unless it is made clear to me why I should do so.
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Napoleon
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 09:58:59 pm »
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Additionally, I object to forcing Connecticut to be appended to a Boston panel. Even the Second Circuit includes CT with NY.
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 10:01:45 pm »
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In general, I support the basis of this proposed bill.  However, like other members of this Assembly, and like the Governor, I would like to see further clarification as to the necessity of such legislation in the Northeast.
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Carlos Danger
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 11:18:31 pm »
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http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2012/04/30/calif-man-sues-bmw-for-persistent-erection/

I saw this, and was inspired to write this bill.  Every single day now, you have some "wacky lawsuit" story on the national news.  For every wacky lawsuit that makes the national news, there are a dozen that stay confined to the local news.  For every one wacky and off the wall enough to make the news, there are a hundred that aren't interesting to read about, but are based on complaints every bit as spurious, or that are intended merely to harass the defendant.

Moreover, this is not merely a nuisance but a massive drain on productive society.  As of right now, every time a case like the one linked above is filed, the trial court must still convene to consider dismissal, meaning that up to several hours of court time, including a judge, clerks, bailiff, other court staff, etc. are being paid to essentially do nothing.  Every time boner boy blames the Bimmer, not only do backlogs build, but tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars are wasted.

Furthermore, and more importantly, given the expense of a lawyer, filing a frivolous or harassing lawsuit against an individual or small business can and does drive many into bankruptcy defending themselves, even if every lawsuit against them is dismissed.  The Church of Scientology, amongst others, explicitly uses the tactic of suing critics until they go bankrupt defending themselves.

Regarding potential abuse:  These are randomly-chosen judges we are talking about.  If their judgment is suspect, then so is the entire legal system.  Nevertheless, I will add the following amendment:

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4.  All business of the Litigation Review Panels shall be video and audio recorded and available on request to the general public, and will also be open to the public.

Regarding Connecticut:  The three districts as they exist currently are intended to be roughly equal in population (and therefore workload for their respective panels).  Adding Connecticut to New York would make their populations more unequal; the New England district is already easily the smallest in population.

Regarding statistics:  I don't have the data on regional [out of character: state] lawsuits, but here are the statistics for the growth in federal lawsuits: http://www.uscourts.gov/Statistics/FederalJudicialCaseloadStatistics.aspx

Growth in number of federal lawsuits filed:

2002: 4.2%
2003: -3.1%
2004: -0.4%
2005: 8.9%
2006: -12.4%
2007: 14.0%
2008: -11.8%
2009: 5.3%
2010: 9.2%
2011: 4.3%

As you can see, the number of lawsuits filed at the federal level has been *vastly* exceeding population growth during the last ten years.  The most common retort to "So sue me!" is now "I will!"  The tendency to resolve more and more disputes via litigation is making it prohibitively expensive for many to do business in this country.
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Napoleon
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2012, 11:24:11 pm »
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Thank you Representative wormyguy. It is likely I will sign this if passed. I would prefer moving Boston to Hartford, though, unless you can think of a better alternative to Boston. I think the goals of the proposed section 4 are sound, but maybe sacrificing personal privacy for bureaucratic transparency, and instead should find a way to reconcile this dilemma.
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2012, 11:59:19 pm »
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Thank you Representative Wormyguy.

As I have stated previously, in general, I am in favor of such legislation.

Your clarification and details are very helpful and informative.

I will support this bill.

Frivilous lawsuits must be brought under control.
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AverroŽs Nix
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2012, 02:51:24 am »
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This is a well-constructed piece of legislation and it has my support. Although I am concerned about what happens when judges on all three panels are faced with conflicts of interest. It could happen!
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2012, 10:31:49 am »
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I am in favor of efforts to reduce vexatious and frivolous litigation, and the honorable member's statistics show that this bill would just that. I support this legislation.
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Pyrofox
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2012, 02:11:16 pm »
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If the judges are truly randomly chosen from the Census and if video recordings will be easily available, then I cannot find a reason not to support such a provision.
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Carlos Danger
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« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2012, 04:18:39 pm »
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Thank you Representative wormyguy. It is likely I will sign this if passed. I would prefer moving Boston to Hartford, though, unless you can think of a better alternative to Boston. I think the goals of the proposed section 4 are sound, but maybe sacrificing personal privacy for bureaucratic transparency, and instead should find a way to reconcile this dilemma.

Well, my feeling is that if you've filed a lawsuit you've already made the decision to sacrifice your privacy.  I'm guessing that the procedings of the panels will be deadly boring, so nobody will want to watch them anyway...

If the judges are truly randomly chosen from the Census and if video recordings will be easily available, then I cannot find a reason not to support such a provision.

Well the judges are currently sitting, actual judges, not randomly chosen citizens, unless I'm misinterpreting you.
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AverroŽs Nix
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2012, 10:21:22 pm »
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Debate time has expired.  The Assembly will now vote on the final text.  This vote will last 24 hours, or until all members have voted.

Quote
Northeast Harassing and Frivolous Lawsuit Prevention Act

1.  Three Litigation Review Panels, a Boston panel representing New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), a New York City panel representing New York, and a Philadelphia panel representing the Mid-Atlantic (Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) shall be established.  Each panel shall consist of three judges, chosen randomly and rotated every three months.  Judges may choose to decline service on the Litigation Review Panel, in which case a different judge will be chosen to serve.

2.  a.  All plaintiffs shall be asked, as a condition of filing a lawsuit, to write a short summary of the complaint, no more than 1 page in single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font on 8.5x11 paper with 1 inch margins.  Defendants may issue short rebuttals following the same regulations, provided they are submitted before the Litigation Review Panel reviews the case.

b.  The Litigation Review Panels shall review all such summaries as soon as they are filed, and may choose to allow the cases to go to trial, dismiss the case without prejudice by a simple majority of two, or dismiss the case with prejudice and/or order the plaintiff to pay the defendant's legal fees by a unanimous vote of three.

3.  If a judge has a conflict of interest on a case submitted to his or her Litigation Review Panel, it shall be submitted to one of the other two Litigation Review Panels for review.
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Carlos Danger
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« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2012, 10:24:52 pm »
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Aye.
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Simfan34
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« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2012, 10:36:27 pm »
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Aye
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Pyrofox
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« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2012, 03:20:22 am »
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Aye
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AverroŽs Nix
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« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2012, 08:20:12 am »
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Abstain
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« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2012, 08:44:28 pm »
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Aye
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AverroŽs Nix
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« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2012, 11:35:37 pm »
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With four ayes and one abstention, the bill passes.
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