Small Businesses Share Stories of Frivolous Lawsuits

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 7:00pm

Small Businesses Share Stories of Frivolous Lawsuits
U.S. Chamber 'Faces of Lawsuit Abuse' Campaign Debuts New Small Business Stories

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Two small business owners and the founder of a nonprofit organization—all targets of abusive lawsuits—are speaking out about their legal ordeals at www.facesoflawsuitabuse.org/ as part of a nationwide public awareness campaign launched today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The new campaign aims to demonstrate how abusive lawsuits affect real people in very real ways.

"At a time when we are relying on small businesses to create jobs and help our economy recover, many are being burdened by the weight of abusive, costly lawsuits," said ILR President Lisa Rickard. According to the Small Business Administration, 52% of lawsuits target small business, the economic engine that creates 64% of America's jobs.

The Web site features a collection of video stories of lawsuit abuse victims, including a family-owned Michigan foundry that was sued by a man who had filed 23 previous lawsuits. The plaintiff alleged that the foundry, Acra Cast, was responsible for contamination on his cars and at his home. Acra Cast has always been in full compliance with all environmental regulations, and it was later discovered that the plaintiff did not own some of the cars that he claimed compensation for and that he had disposed of the carpets and cleaned the house siding before evidence could be collected. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed after almost three years in court but at a significant cost, including almost $20,000 out of Acra Cast's pocket – a large sum for the small company.

The campaign, supported by a national television, radio, and online advertising effort and movie theater trailers in targeted cities throughout the country, will run through early 2010.

"The lawsuits filed against the small businesses featured in this campaign cost time and money, which could have been used to grow their companies and create jobs," said Rickard. "We are bringing these stories to the public to help people understand that our nation's litigious culture will hamper the small businesses essential to our economic recovery."

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

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