There are two major laws that Congress is working to pass that would make it more difficult for an American to sue a corporation, The Consumerist reported.
H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act is akin to an Erin Brockovich killer. The first of the two laws, would make it more difficult for American's to file class action lawsuits against a corporation, the Center for American Progress explains. The law would put restrictions on the criteria for people banding together for a class action suit. It also would complicate and delay any payments for an attorney representing the clients. Such an act would make it risky for any lawyer to take on a case to help someone hurt by a corporation. According to CAP, Vice President Mike Pence has been seeking laws like this for years.
If you've seen the film "Erin Brockovich" you know that she brought together residents of Hinkley, California to sue Pacific Gas and Electric for contaminating groundwater that caused medical problems and in some cases death. This law would have prevented Brockovich, or any American, from coming together to file a lawsuit against any company.
H.R. 720 the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act would require federal judges penalize or otherwise discipline any attorney that brings what they consider to be a "frivolous lawsuit." Currently, this decision is left up to the judge’s discretion.
A better name for the bill might be "Who Cares About Hot Coffee" bill. In 1992, a 72-year-old woman sued McDonald's when she spilled a cup of coffee in her lap and sustained third-degree burns and required skin grafts. Her suit is often used as the perfect example of a frivolous lawsuit, but the documentary "Hot Coffee" explains that the elderly woman did actually suffer from severe burns and was hospitalized as a result. While the woman sued, she never asked for $3 million in damages. She awarded it by a jury. The judge in the case decided the lawsuit wasn't frivolous. McDonald's had over 700 lawsuits for hot coffee that caused, in many cases, third-degree burns. In her case refused to give her more than $800 to pay her medical bills. At the time she first sued, she was only asking $11,000 in medical bills but they refused. The judge recommended a mediation hearing and at that hearing, she asked $300,000 and the mediator suggested $225,000. McDonald's again refused to award anything. A jury in the case awarded her $200,000 for her injuries, but cut it to $160,000 because she bore 20 percent of the responsibility. It was the jury that awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages, in part, to send a message to McDonald's. The judge lowered it to $640,000 and she ultimately ended up with under $600,000 in damages.
From Republican language, one would think there's an outbreak of frivolous lawsuits breaking out all over the country. Any judge can dismiss a lawsuit as frivolous already. If a suit goes to a jury trial, it's because a judge already considers it a valid lawsuit. Our judicial system has three safeguards in place already, but the GOP is seeking to attack lawyers for helping people exercise their right to have their day in court, however short that day may be.
According to Legal NewsLine, this isn't the first time the law was proposed. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) proposed it in 2015 and it passed the House but failed to garner traction in the Senate.
“Frivolous lawsuits have become too common," Smith said in 2015. "Lawyers who bring these cases have everything to gain and nothing to lose under current rules, which permit plaintiffs’ lawyers to file frivolous suits, no matter how absurd the claims, without any penalty. Meanwhile, defendants are often faced with years of litigation and substantial attorneys’ fees."
A corporate defendant likely believes any lawsuit would be considered frivolous.
Democrats are fighting back, however. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has proposed his own bill, The Arbitration Fairness Act. Often times, contracts include clauses that force any employee or customer to enter into a binding arbitration instead of lawsuit. Franken's law would clarify a "century-old Federal Arbitration Act — a law that was never intended to apply to things like cell phone bills, personal checking accounts, or Snuggies," The Consumerist explained. No company could force any customer or employee from using the judicial system with their binding arbitration clause.
One of the most notable cases about binding arbitration was when Jamie Leigh Jones sued the defense contractor KBR after she was drugged and gang-raped while working overseas. Jones alleged KBR imprisoned her "in a shipping container after she reported the rape, and suggested KBR had tampered with some of the medical evidence that had been collected at an Army hospital," Mother Jones reported. Jones never saw the inside of a courtroom thanks to KBR's binding arbitration in her contract. Franken's law would ensure anyone like Jones would have his or her Sixth Amendment rights upheld.
It remains to be seen what the Build Back Better Act of 2021 will ultimately look like if Democrats are able to get it passed by Congress and onto President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law. But liberal economist Paul Krugman, in his October 25 column for the New York Times, expresses optimism that Democrats are about to pass legislation that will "invest in America's future" — even if the bill that is passed is smaller than what some progressives have been pushing for.
"Democrats may — may — finally be about to agree on a revenue and spending plan," Krugman explains. "It will clearly be smaller than President Biden's original proposal, and much smaller than what progressives wanted. It will, however, be infinitely bigger than what Republicans would have done, because if the GOP-controlled Congress, we would be doing nothing at all to invest in America's future…. Far too much reporting has focused mainly on the headline spending number — $3.5 trillion, no, $1.5 trillion, whatever — without saying much about the policies this spending would support."
Krugman goes on to say that the Biden Administration "could have done a better job of summarizing its plans in pithy slogans."
"So let me propose a one-liner: Tax the rich, help America's children," Krugman writes. "This gets at much of what the legislation is likely to do. Reporting suggests that the final bill will include taxes on billionaires' incomes and minimum taxes for corporations, along with a number of child-oriented programs. And action on climate change can, reasonably, be considered another way of helping future generations."
Krugman adds that "taxing the rich and helping children" are "very much in the American tradition," citing some examples.
The economist notes, "Remember, we are the nation that basically invented universal education. Thomas Jefferson called for publicly funded schools even in the midst of the Revolutionary War…. We are also, arguably, the nation that invented progressive taxation…. In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt argued that it was essential to prevent the 'inheritance or transmission in their entirety' of 'fortunes swollen beyond all healthy limits,' and in 1907, he called for a 'heavy progressive tax' on estates to achieve this goal…. Progressive taxation is as American as apple pie."
Krugman continues, "So, if Democrats finally do agree on a fiscal plan, they should go all-out in promoting it. Economics, politics and America's historical traditions are on their side."
‘When do we get to use the guns?’: TP USA audience member asks Charlie Kirk when can ‘we kill’ Democrats? (Video)
An audience member asked a disturbing and stunning question at a speech given by close Trump family ally and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk in Idaho on Monday, but instead of denouncing and disavowing the question itself as being anti-democratic, morally repugnant, illegal, based on falsehoods, and against his repeatedly avowed Christian values, Kirk offered an equally disturbing response.
"At this point, we're living under corporate and medical fascism. This is tyranny," claimed the unidentified man, as Media Matters reports. "When do we get to use the guns? No, and I'm not — that's not a joke. I'm not saying it like that. I mean, literally, where's the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?"
The TP USA founder and executive director has strong ties to the Trump family and heads the far right wing organization that professes to exist to support conservative college students. It has "generated support from anti-Muslim bigots and alt lite activists, and from some corners of the white supremacist alt right," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) wrote several years ago.
Kirk "denounced" the audience member's remarks because, he told the man, "you're playing into all their plans and they're trying to make you do this."
"So, no, I – no, hold on. I – no – stop, hold on," Kirk told him. "Now, I'm going to denounce that and I'm going to tell you why. Because you're playing into all their plans and they're trying to make you do this. That's OK. Just hear me out," he urged.
"They are trying to provoke you and everyone here. They are trying to make you do something that will be violent that will justify a takeover of your freedoms and liberties, the likes of which we have never seen," Kirk fear-mongered.
"We are close to have momentum to be able to get this country back on a trajectory using the peaceful means that we have at us," Kirk insisted. "So to answer your question, and I just think it's, you know, overly blunt, we have to be the ones that do not play into the violent aims and ambitions of the other side. They fear – let me say this very clearly – they fear us holding the line with self-control and discipline, taking over school board meetings. They are the ones that are willing to use federal force against us."
Donald Trump literally used federal force against innocent Americans and peaceful protestors.
"We are living under fascism," Kirk continued, which is false, currently. "We are living under this tyranny," he claimed, not referring to anything in particular. "But if you think for a second that they're not wanting you to all of a sudden get that next level where they're going to say, 'OK, we need Patriot Act 2.0.' If you think that, you know, Waco is bad, wait until you see what they want to do next. What I'm saying is that we have a very fragile balance right now at our current time where we must exhaust every single peaceful mean possible."
Pushing election lies, TPUSA audience member asks Charlie Kirk when they can "use the guns" and "kill these people" https://t.co/jZafRI6KO6 pic.twitter.com/IUsnsz24XC
— Media Matters (@mmfa) October 26, 2021
Kyle Rittenhouse judge won’t let prosecutors call two people he killed victims — but defense can call them rioters
A Wisconsin imposed new restrictions on prosecutors but granted Kyle Rittenhouse's defense lawyers a bit more latitude in describing the murder case case to jurors.
The 18-year-old Rittenhouse is set to go on trial Nov. 1 in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during an Aug. 25, 2020, protest against the Kenosha police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, but a judge barred prosecutors from using the word "Victim" to describe those two men and a third, Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded in the incident, reported the Associated Press.
"The word 'victim' is a loaded, loaded word," said Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder. "'Alleged victim' is a cousin to it."
The judge denied a prosecution request to bar defense attorneys from using similarly loaded language in reference to Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz, saying Rittenhouse's lawyers may present evidence suggesting the men were engaged in crimes at the time of the shootings.
"If more than one of them were engaged in arson, rioting, looting, I'm not going to tell the defense you can't call them that," the judge said.
Schroeder also ruled that use-of-force expert John Black, who defense attorneys want to call as a witness, may not testify about Rittenhouse's state of mind but rejected a prosecution request to block his testimony, saying jurors didn't need an expert to understand what happened.
Assistant district attorney Thomas Binger said he wouldn't call his own expert witness if Schroeder testified only about the timeline of events in the fatal shootings, and defense attorney Mark Richards agreed to that arrangement.
Schroeder will allow prosecutors to show a video of police telling Rittenhouse and other armed militia members they appreciated their presence and tossed the teen a bottle of water, which defense attorneys argued would show that officers didn't believe he was acting recklessly, but the judge disagreed with prosecutors that the evidence was irrelevant.
"If the jury is being told, if the defendant is walking down the sidewalk and doing what he claims he was hired to do and police say good thing you're here, is that something influencing the defendant and emboldening him in his behavior?" Schroeder said. "That would be an argument for relevance."