New Research Reveals Surge in TCPA Suits, Outlier State High Court Ruling Trends

December 9, 2014

TCPA lawsuits are up 30 percent through September of 2014 compared to the same period last year, according to new research released by the The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

The ILR released a new research report spotlighting key emerging national and state legal reform trends. Lawsuit Ecosystem II: New Trends, Targets and Players is a large-scale survey of lawsuit trends, including the explosion of litigation exploiting a law intended to stop unsolicited telemarketing, and Laboratories of Tort Law: A Three-Year Review of Key Supreme Court Decisions examines how some recent state Supreme Court decisions pose challenges to the business community.

“Businesses across industries face an ever-widening spectrum of lawsuit abuse, as plaintiffs’ lawyers are perpetually identifying new profit centers,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of ILR. “Meanwhile, state high court decisions outside the mainstream are creating a continuous guessing game for the business community in terms of how states will enforce their laws.”

Lawsuit Ecosystem II updates a 2013 ILR paper detailing litigation trends, the growing alliance between state attorneys general and plaintiffs’ lawyers, and the industries most frequently targeted by emerging theories of liability. In particular, the update discusses the rapid rise of litigation exploiting the Telephone Consumer Protect Action (TCPA).

Highlights of the report include:

  • The creation of mass tort litigation through extensive and complex business models;
  • The expansion of product liability lawsuits;
  • The plaintiff-initiated discovery disputes aimed at discrediting defendants and initiating court sanctions for loss of electronic data;
  • The debate over what does and does not constitute a certifiable class action;
  • The evolution of asbestos litigation;
  • The unabated continuation of securities litigation and its subsequent harm to investors;
  • The filing of class action lawsuits within weeks of every merger and acquisition announcement;
  • The near record filings of federal False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuits, or qui tam actions;
  • The abusive litigation practices used by patent trolls;
  • The targeting of employer social media use as fertile ground for labor and employment lawsuits;
  • The rise of litigation against energy producers;
  • The exploitation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA); and
  • The delegation of government power by state attorneys general to private lawyers through contingency fee arrangements.

Meanwhile, Laboratories of Tort Law discusses the impact of recent key state Supreme Court rulings on business, including an Alabama decision holding drugmakers liable for alleged injuries caused by products they did not manufacture. The paper also discusses Nevada and West Virginia decisions that unreasonably expand the duties of homeowners and businesses to protect visitors and even trespassers on their property from injury. The research also details a Wisconsin ruling in support of inflated personal injury awards.

The report highlights significant tort law decisions over the past three years that are examples of particularly sound or unsound rulings. These rulings span a wide range of issues including asbestos liability, consumer litigation, loss of chance in medical negligence cases, medical monitoring claims, calculation of damages for medical expenses, premises liability, product liability, and respect for the legislature’s role in establishing rules for liability.

Each analysis examines the traditional tort law principles involved, whether the court followed or deviated from these principles, and the court’s reasoning in reaching its decision. The report also considers the impact that these decisions may have on businesses and the likelihood that the ruling will influence the law in other jurisdictions.

The ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial and educational activities at the national, state and local levels.

Source: ILR

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