Proposed Changes to Federal Rules Would Eliminate Access to Justice

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For Immediate Release: December 20, 2013

Contact: Katie Gommel
202-965-3500, ext. 6645
media.replies@justice.org

Proposed Changes to Federal Rules Would Eliminate Access to Justice

Washington, DC— The Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the United States Courts is considering major changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which would dramatically alter our legal system, making it much more difficult to hold corporations that injure and kill Americans accountable in court.

American Association for Justice President Burton LeBlanc submitted comments to the Committee regarding the proposed changes.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure establish how civil lawsuits are filed, pursued, and tried in federal courts.  The proposed Rules changes would limit discovery, decrease the number and length of depositions, and remove incentives to preserve critical documents.  These proposals will give corporations new tools to avoid providing internal documents and emails Americans often need to vindicate their rights in court and force cases to be decided before all the facts are found and brought to light.
 
“By cutting the number of opportunities for the plaintiff to get that information from a reluctant defendant, the Committee is virtually ensuring that a clever, evasive defendant will not be held accountable for its wrongdoing because it will be difficult for plaintiffs to prove that the defendants deliberately stymied their ability to get critical information,” said LeBlanc in the comments.
 
This will have a chilling effect on civil rights, employment discrimination, bank fraud and environmental cases because the information needed to prove these types of case is often in the sole possession of the corporation.

“These proposals are a solution to a problem that does not exist. There is no legitimate empirical data that supports such drastic changes to the Rules, and the only neutral empirical research conducted by the FJC [Federal Judicial Center] makes clear that these proposed changes are entirely unnecessary and that the cases where discovery is extremely costly are few and far between,” LeBlanc stated in the comments.
 
The American Association for Justice is committed to ensuring changes to the Federal Rules do not tip the scales of justice to favor billion dollar corporations over individual Americans and small businesses.  LeBlanc and other members of the Association testified before the Committee this past November, and additional members will testify in upcoming Committee hearings.
 
You can find the full comments online here.

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