Judicial Reform

An effective and cost-efficient legal system is an essential building block to ensuring fair and just outcomes. Excessive litigation, frivolous litigation, and clogged courts not only delay justice but impede due process and impinge upon the freedom of citizens to handle matters expeditiously and go about their daily lives in the pursuit of happiness. Additionally, sentences handed down that are out of proportion to the wrong alleged, either overly punishing or too lenient, as well as unreliable testimony do not serve the best interests of the country.

The Foundation has joined a number of cases focused on promoting fairness and justice in our legal system in all of the areas described above. For example, we have argued in opposition to frivolous “securities fraud” lawsuits, multimillion dollar judgements supporting reckless and negligent behavior, and uninjured and unimpacted plaintiffs suing others so that they can recover “statutory damages” and attorney fees.

Read about these Foundation legal actions and more in our Amicus Briefs below.

Case Name:
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court
Date Filed:
11/10/2016
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, we are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review (and ultimately overturn) a California Supreme Court decision that authorizes California courts to exercise jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants, even when the plaintiffs also live in other States and their claims have no connection whatsoever to California. Plaintiffs’ lawyers often choose to file suit in California because of its reputation for plaintiff-friendly courts. Our brief argues that the U.S. Constitution imposes limits on the power of state courts to require individuals and corporations to defend lawsuits in distant and inconvenient forums. We partnered with Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Pending. Awaiting U.S. Supreme Court review.

Case Name:
Black & Decker (U.S.), Inc., et al. v. SD3, LLC and Sawstop LLC
Date Filed:
02/26/2016
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued here that allegations in antitrust complaints must allow for the possibility of an alternative, legal explanation that may also account for the facts. We discuss how a previous Supreme Court ruling already clarified that where an equally plausible, non-conspiratorial “alternative explanation” exists for alleged anti-competitive conduct, it is an error to allow a complaint to go forward based on a mere inference that an unlawful agreement existed as part of an anticompetitive conspiracy in which competitors were secretively plotting against a business.

Verdict:
Pending

Case Name:
State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. United States ex rel. Rigsby
Date Filed:
11/20/2015
Court:
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Foundation Action:

The Foundation argued in this case that claims made by whistleblowers should be subject to the False Claims Act’s (FCA) mandatory seal provision or risk having their claim dismissed. This seal provision requires that any claims made against a company should be kept private for at least 60 days while the U.S. government decides whether to join the lawsuit. The purpose of this seal is to avoid publicizing potentially false and harmful information that can damage a company's reputation, regardless of the veracity of the claims. This case arose from allegations by the plaintiffs that State Farm submitted a false claim to the federal government in connection with a homeowner’s property-insurance claim after Hurricane Katrina. The plaintiffs (and their counsel) deliberately and repeatedly violated the FCA’s mandatory seal provision by informing news organizations and a Member of Congress about the existence and nature of their lawsuit while still under seal. We are seeking review by the Supreme Court that by not dismissing the claim or imposing any punitive actions, the court incentivizes future claims to extort settlements by companies who wish to avoid any damage to their reputation.

Verdict:
Victory. The Supreme Court has agreed to review the case.

Case Name:
FTC v. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, LLC
Date Filed:
10/14/2014
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued in support of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts that a business cannot be held liable by the FTC for having unreasonable data-security measures in place when the FTC has not provided standards that represent fair cybersecurity practices. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
First National Bank of Wahoo v. Charvat
Date Filed:
01/06/2014
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that uninjured individuals should not be allowed to sue those who they believe are violating federal law when they themselves have not been impacted as they lack standing to sue and are likely motivated financial rewards and attorney fees. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Amgen, Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds.
Date Filed:
04/04/2012
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit
Foundation Action:

The AEF argued in this case that against a "securities fraud" lawsuit after the stock price had dropped when there was no evidence that any market observers were deceived regarding the company's sales prospects. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory.

Case Name:
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co v. Bedell
Date Filed:
09/26/2011
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued that a protective order issued by a West Virginia state court would frustrate the efforts of insurance companies to monitor and report insurance fraud. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Sargon Enterprises, Inc. v. University of Southern California
Date Filed:
04/12/2011
Court:
California Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that trial courts should exclude from evidence all expert testimony that does not employ a methodology that is generally accepted among experts in the field or is merely speculation. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Choate v. Indiana Belt Harbor Railway Co
Date Filed:
09/15/2010
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued that a landowner should not be held liable for failing to prevent child trespasser from knowingly engaging in reckless behavior when they are capable of appreciating the risks involved. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Indiana State Police Pension Trust v. Chrysler LLC
Date Filed:
10/05/2009
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued in support of current Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections and that senior, secured creditors should retain more company value than junior, unsecured creditors. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
United States v. Stevens
Date Filed:
06/16/2009
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued the selling of videos depicting animal torture should not be entitled to First Amendment protection. We partnered with Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Graham County v. United States ex rel. Wilson
Date Filed:
10/08/2008
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In the Foundation's continuing effort to reduce the number of abusive lawsuits, AEF argued in this case that when an individual takes it upon themselves to file a suit alleging fraud against the federal government, the suit should be barred under most circumstances if the facts underlying the alleged fraud have already been publicly disclosed, unless the individual was an original sources of those facts. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Gall v. United States
Date Filed:
07/26/2007
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that federal district court judges should have greater latitude in imposing a sentence that falls outside the U.S. Sentencing Guideline range for a particular sentence as long as they do not abuse their discretion. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Claiborne v. United States; Rita v. United States
Date Filed:
12/19/2006
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued that a sentence imposed within the range set by the harsh federal sentence guidelines may be considered as unreasonable by a reviewing court of appeals. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
Rockwell Int'l Corp. v. United States ex rel. Stone
Date Filed:
10/26/2006
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued against expanding the ability of attorneys to file False Claims Act (FCA) cases against government contractors unless they are the original source of the information showing a claim was false. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
San Remo Hotel v. City and County of San Francisco
Date Filed:
11/12/2004
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued that individuals claiming government violation of their Fifth Amendment property rights should still have a right to request that their claims at some point be heard in federal court. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
United States v. Booker; United States v. Fanfan
Date Filed:
09/21/2004
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, AEF argued against federal Sentencing Guidelines which often impose draconian prison sentences for minor regulatory offenses as they violate the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury by permitting judges to impose sentences based on factors not found by a jury beyond reasonable doubt. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Thurston v. United States
Date Filed:
07/26/2004
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that a sentence for violating Medicare billing regulations that was increased from 3-months to 3-years by the U.S. Court of Appeals was excessive. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss in appeals court. Seeking Supreme Court review.

Case Name:
Lowry's Reports, Inc. v. Legg Mason, Inc.
Date Filed:
07/15/2004
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that an award of approximately $20 million in punitive fines is excessive for copyright infringement which was limited to forwarding electronic copies of a copyrighted Lowry's Reports financial newsletter by a low-level Legg Mason employee to other employees. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Case settled

Case Name:
Lynn v. Reinstein
Date Filed:
09/15/2003
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

Here, the Foundation argued that a crime victim, in this case a husband who witnessed his wife's murder, should be allowed to recommend an appropriate punishment in a capital case. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Loss

Case Name:
State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Campbell
Date Filed:
08/19/2002
Court:
U.S. Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

In this case, the Foundation argued that a $145 million punitive damage award against an insurance company was excessive inlight of the lack of any out-of-pocket damages sustained by the plaintiff. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory

Case Name:
Rhyne v. Kmart Corp
Date Filed:
04/05/2001
Court:
North Carolina Supreme Court
Foundation Action:

AEF argued in this case in support of a North Carolina law that limits punitive damage awards to the greater of $250,000 or three times the compensatory damages. We partnered with the Washington Legal Foundation on this action.

Verdict:
Victory