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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 16, 2019 12:36 PM
From: Representative Fred Keller
To: All House members
Subject: Legislation Providing for Fee Shifting in Civil Actions
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation designed to discourage over-use of the judicial system, by placing the costs of bringing unnecessary suits on the lawyers, who should know better.

My bill will provide that, whenever the defendant is the winning party, the lawyer for the plaintiff will be required to reimburse the defendant for his legal fees and other costs of defending the lawsuit. After all, the defendant did not ask to be hauled into court, and had no choice but to incur the expenses of defending the suit. Therefore, the defendant, once it is shown that he is not in the wrong, should not have to bear the expense of the plaintiff’s maliciousness or poor judgment.

There are various statutes in current law that provide for fee-shifting where the defendant is the prevailing party, but the difference is that my bill will require the attorney for the plaintiff to pay these expenses. Attorneys act as the gatekeepers for the courts, and are prohibited by the rules of procedure and the rules of ethics from bringing frivolous suits. Yet all too often, they get away with it – often by exploiting the relative ignorance of their clients. Lawyers are trained in the law, and are in a better position to know when a suit is warranted, than a lay person. Perhaps they would reconsider their business model, if the cost of doing business their way is increased.

Please join me in sponsoring this legislation, and help to reduce the financial burden on our legal system.

Introduced as HB1503