Limiting Frivolous Environmental Lawsuits
Know How Your Congressmen Voted
Haslett, MI (September 23, 2004) Last week, the US House of Representatives passed House Resolution number HR-4571 named the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act. The Legislation largely targeted baseless, tort lawsuits and is aimed at stemming the tide of frivolous litigation initiated in particular by Environmental fund raising organizations. Frivolous litigation often chokes the legal system, kills jobs and hampers economic growth. The legislation would restore mandatory sanctions for filing frivolous lawsuits and require monetary sanctions against any party making a frivolous claim. This legislation now needs to pass the Senate before it is law.
One of the legislative goals is to make sure the environmental organizations that file frivolous lawsuits understand there is an expense to their effort. At this time, Environmental organizations often file lawsuits knowing there is no expense to their actions. Environmental Groups are largely unapologetic for rampant frivolous litigation. As an example Peter Morton of the Wilderness Society stated in an open discussion on Federal Land Use policy, that, "If any corporation or person bids on a lease on public land, you can expect environmental litigation regardless of the merits of the case."
It should be noted that as of right now there are over 7,100 active environmental lawsuits being litigated in the United States today. The United States General Accounting office has found that 59% of all forest fuel reduction projects, which are performed to reduce the incidents of catastrophic wildfire, have been appealed by environmental organizations. Out of those cases, 161 of the 180 challenges were thrown out of court and deemed to be frivolous. However, the Court Appeals filed by Environmental organizations delayed the thinning of our US forests by at least 120 days and in some cases, those delays have lead to the wild-fires in the western US.
Regarding the economic impact of these frivolous lawsuits, it has been reported that US manufacturers spend 22% more than their international competitors on fighting frivolous lawsuits in the United States.
Certainly frivolous lawsuits are often filed by environmental organizations hoping to stop or delay perfectly good recreation plans and travel management plans that are worked on by snowmobile clubs and associations. When responsible recreation plans are stopped by frivolous lawsuits, tourism related jobs are lost and all Americans lose family recreational activities for their grandchildren.
The true recorded votes of the US House of Representatives on this legislation by state are included with this short article.
final vote results