June 21, 2021

The Prison Litigation Reform Act – A Product Liability Statute in Disguise

Faegre Drinker on Products Blog

United States prisoners file an inordinate number of often frivolous lawsuits. In federal district courts alone, prisoners filed more than 28,000 last year. With time on their hands, and influenced by plaintiff attorneys’ advertisements and/or sensational media coverage of multimillion-dollar personal injury verdicts, many prisoners pursue baseless product liability actions. Their goal: winning an outsized verdict or, at least, a quick, nuisance-value settlement. They have had little to lose. Yet, defendant pharmaceutical companies are forced to litigate these cases, faced with the attendant costs of often-complicated inmate discovery. Many judges and/or magistrates, perhaps influenced by civil rights concerns, sometimes bend the rules of Civil Procedure for pro se prison plaintiffs. The result: Expensive litigation of often meritless lawsuits with virtually no chance of collecting costs as a prevailing party.

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