The Institute for Legal Reform is a long-time critic of litigation funding and what they call frivolous lawsuits. In the area of litigation funding, some of the criticisms are the very existence of the field will lead to runaway lawsuits that will damage the legal system.
In their latest criticism of the industry, the Institute for Legal Reform released a report on the industry in Australia. In it they mention conflict of interests, funding arrangements, and the courts being misused.
An interesting editorial was published in The Hill newspaper based in Washington D.C. about frivolous lawsuits from 2011 by Christine Hines of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. In it she talks about the myth of frivolous lawsuits and how the term is being used to forego certain rights that people hold true.
She explains that with the reforms critics of civil litigation are trying to push through, many victims of malpractice would have no way of getting justice. Also as an added bonus, many states have limited the monetary damages a victim can receive from an accident.
The film InJustice shows how the class action lawsuit came to be, and according to the filmmakers, shows how a small group of trial attorneys manipulate every possible factor, including their clients, to become rich. The film is supposed to expose the dark side of lawsuit scams and abuses, including some plaintiffs who were never injured that steal from those who legitimately are hurt.
The film also looks to show the truth about such cases as the asbestos litigation, tobacco litigation, and Hurricane Katrina litigation.
Disclaimer: No one likes frivolous lawsuits, lawyers, courts, and defendants, but the alternative to frivolous lawsuits should not be to make it harder for ordinary people to get justice. Tort reform would do just that because it’s a one size fits all policy that ignores the different situations legal cases bring.
The proponents of tort reform would also blame litigation funding for frivolous lawsuits, ignoring the fact that litigation funding companies put the cases they might fund through a rigorous evaluation process. The funds are non-recourse partly for that reason; the company did enough research and believes the plaintiff has a good shot of winning or getting a sufficient settlement.
One of the biggest criticisms of lawsuit financing is that it encourages frivolous lawsuits that clog the system and prevent justice from being served in a timely manner.
That criticism, however unfounded because lawsuit financing companies thoroughly examine a case’s merits before funding, does make one thing clear. Frivolous lawsuits will never end. LawFirmFinancing.net has decided to try and bring some cases that in our opinion seem to be frivolous.
The New York Post published a well reported story about people who go pro-se (being their own lawyers) and file lawsuits in which they sometimes ask for ridiculous amounts of money, often with very weak cases. According to the story, it is relatively inexpensive to file a lawsuit. It costs $350 to launch a case in federal court.
There is one case where the plaintiff is asking for $580,000,000 over corruption charges from a hotel and casino. The story goes on to list other cases where the merits of the cases are dubious at best, and the amounts plaintiffs are looking for can be ridiculous.
According to the Washington Times, the number of employment discrimination lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has doubled over the past five years because the definition of “disability” has expanded. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was flooded, which led to more frivolous claims. It goes on to quote an official at the United States Chamber of Commerce which says employers are being barraged by frivolous cases which can cost over $30,000.
The added aggression by the EEOC and the expanded definition of disabled under the ADA have had a terrible effect on business while creating a boon for lawyers. This analysis, while one-sided, does make some valid points about possible abuse from unscrupulous characters. However, it does not take into account the needed muscle workers and lawyers need to fight unscrupulous employers.
Lawyers are skilled on both sides, and the law is designed to help the downtrodden against abuses by the upper class. If workers do not have these certain kinds of protections, they can potentially be victim to all kinds of abuse. Also, to follow this kind of thinking assumes workers are out to scam their bosses rather than work a decent job. Frivolous lawsuits can be defined very loosely and depending on the person, it can mean a claim with no reasonable merit or one that can be very bad for the employer with loads of proof.
Frivolous is in the eye of the beholder. Usually this kind of thinking also denotes things like lawsuit funding, which some say encourages frivolous lawsuits. Lawsuit funding companies however usually thoroughly evaluate a case before funding to ensure that it is not frivolous, as the funds are non-recourse. It’s an interesting counterpoint to an agenda that happens to be anti-litigation.