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Congress needs your input

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Snow contractors can submit stories that could help put a dent into instances of frivolous lawsuits.

| December 6, 2011

The following note is from Kevin Gilbride, executive director of ASCA.

I've got some exciting, and equally important, news to pass on to you.

As you know, the ASCA has been very busy meeting with lobbyists and lawmakers, educating them on the issues important to professional snow removal contractors, especially those obstacles prohibiting business growth. I’m happy to report the ASCA's Government Affairs Committees has been working with the U.S. House of Representatives, specifically the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, in support of House Bill 966. This bill, known as the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA), is set to hit the floor of the House in January or February.

So why is this important to the snow fighter in Fargo, N.D., or the snow removal outfit doing business in Boston? LARA will rein in frivolous lawsuits by:

    Restoring mandatory sanctions on attorneys, law firms or parties who file frivolous lawsuits;
    Abolishing the "safe harbor" provision that allows parties and their attorneys to avoid sanctions by withdrawing a suit within 21 days after a motion for sanctions has been filed;
    Permitting monetary sanctions, including reimbursement of reasonable attorney's fees and litigation costs in connection with frivolous lawsuits;
    Restoring the opportunity for sanctions for abuses of the discovery process (the process by which lawyers on each side of a case request information from the other side prior to trial); and
    Extending Rule 11's provisions preventing frivolous lawsuits to apply to state cases in which a state judge finds the case affects interstate commerce by threatening jobs and economic losses to other states.

This will benefit professional snow contractors by:

    Making attorneys think twice before filing a lawsuit because they could be sanctioned and have to pay your attorney’s fees.
    Doing their discovery prior to filing a lawsuit. For those that have all of the documentation in order, you will never even be brought into the lawsuit.
    Helping to reduce insurance costs. As you know, every time a claim is made against you, it counts against you.

HB 966 is heavily supported in the House. However, it is not supported very heavily in the Senate. ASCA has been asked to provide as much information as possible to the subcommittee support our position and theirs. This is where you come in.

Please complete the attached survey to strengthen the support of HB 966. Click HERE to take this 12 question survey. It should only take about 10 minutes of your time.

This bill directly benefits the professional snow and ice removal industry. Additionally, we have been asked for specific stories from professional snow contractors about slip-and-fall lawsuits. In fact, to best reflect the frivolous nature of these bogus claims, they’re requesting your most ridiculous stories. I know you have them. Many have shared them with me around a hotel bar at industry trade shows. Now is the time when these stories can provide some real value to better the professional snow removal industry.

Please send those stories to me by e-mail at kgilbride@ascaonline.org no later than Monday, Dec. 12. Those accounts will be included in the report being compiled by the ASCA's Government Affairs Committee for the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, which is due Dec. 20.

Thank you for your participation in this important survey. Together, as a united professional industry, we can bring about the change needed to level the playing field, ensure a fair business environment and increase our industry's professional awareness so that you can continue to grow and prosper.

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions or would like to discuss this or any other issue impacting the professional snow removal industry.

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