My Testimony Against the Proposed Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Why This Matters

December 20, 2013  |  Other

Guest Post by Baron & Budd Shareholder and American Association of Justice President Burton Leblanc

You’ve heard me talk about the proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on my Facebook page a little bit. Today, I would like to elaborate some more as this is an issue that matters deeply to all individuals and small business owners in this country.

The proposed Rules would bring significant changes to the presumptions and burdens of proof in discovery proceedings, even bringing specific limitations to how discovery is conducted itself. What does that mean, in plain English? These proposed changes would limit Americans’ access to justice and further stack the deck in favor of the negligent corporations that so often take advantage of us.

To make matters worse, as state courts tend to adopt the Rules of the federal court, these new Rules are ones that, if approved, we can expect to encounter in both state and federal courts – leaving individuals and small business owners without a way use the justice system to speak up against the powerful corporations that wronged them and inviting more abuse.

Take one of the most significant damaging effects of one of the proposed Rules changes:

Civil rights, employment discrimination, environmental and bank fraud cases will all be significantly jeopardized as the information required to prove these cases is often in the sole possession of the corporation. Meaning that, by limiting discovery, corporations may never have to provide their internal documents and emails.

What if the patients who were hurt by GranuFlo never had access to the internal Fresenius memo that showed how Fresenius was aware of the risks associated with GranuFlo? Not only would the victims of GranuFlo never find justice in court, but GranuFlo and other drugs like it could keep on endangering Americans.

When the court system protects powerful corporations by systematically keeping individuals and small business owners out of the courts, we’ve got a problem. That’s why we are speaking up.

I testified before the Judicial Conference’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rules along with other American Association for Justice members. During our testimony we voiced our concerns on how the proposed Rules would negatively affect our clients’ access to justice.

As an American you have a right to access justice. We can’t let big corporations take that right away from us.

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