The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 2655 titled Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2013 and the Bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. Although not a patent-focused bill, if enacted, the law could have a substantial impact on patent cases by amending Rule 11(c) by basically making sanctions mandatory for violations of Rule 11(b) certifications. In addition, the amendment would mandate that any sanctions compensate the reasonable expenses of the opposing side and also permit additional monetary and non-monetary sanctions as appropriate. The bulk of the amendment is as follows:
FRCP 11(c) Sanctions.
(1) In General. If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that Rule 11(b) has been violated, the court shall may impose an appropriate sanction on any attorney, law firm, or party that violated the rule or is responsible for the violation. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm must be held jointly responsible for a violation committed by its partner, associate, or employee.
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(4) Nature of a Sanction. A sanction imposed under this rule must be limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. The sanction may include nonmonetary directives; an order to pay a penalty into court; or, if imposed on motion and warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment to the movant of part or all of the reasonable attorney’s fees and other expenses directly resulting from the violation situated, and to compensate the parties that were injured by such conduct. Subject to the limitations in paragraph (5), the sanction shall consist of an order to pay to the party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The court may also impose additional appropriate sanctions, such as striking the pleadings, dismissing the suit, or other directives of a nonmonetary nature, or, if warranted for effective deterrence, an order directing payment of a penalty into the court.
The House vote was almost strictly along party lines with Republicans voting in favor, Democrats against.