Prime Opportunity

ASCA Update - Director’s Note

August 27, 2017

Would you invest $1,500 for the opportunity to spend 30 minutes with eight people who could reduce your insurance rates by as much as 50 percent?

If you answered “Yes, where do I sign up?” then I encourage you to read on.

ASCA members once again descend upon Washington D.C. (Sept. 11 and 12) to tell our story in support of Senate Bill 237, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act. This bill aims to reign in frivolous lawsuits. A reduction in frivolous lawsuits would significantly impact the number of baseless slip-and-fall claims filed against snow contractors, therefore reducing insurance costs.

The LARA would change Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, making mandatory for federal judges to impose sanctions on plaintiff’s and their attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits. This changes the rules back to where they were prior to 1993. Those of you in the industry 25 years ago recall there were very few slip-and-fall claims. The 1993 change allowed attorneys to file claims against anyone – including snow and ice management professionals. The way the system generally works is once the federal courts adopt new changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure, the state courts quickly follow to adopt those rules.

This bill (known as House Bill 720) passed the House earlier this year. Our goal this year in D.C. is to educate Senators on the need for this bill to pass and the huge positive impact it will have on small businesses.

I can’t stress how valuable an experience and how productive a day in D.C. can be for an industry. Any one meeting can pay back huge dividends. For example, the first time the ASCA converged on D.C. we spent the day meeting with 30 congressional representatives and senators. We had 30-plus meetings, with three teams meeting with different elected officials every half hour. At day’s end, we were sitting around a hotel lobby discussing the impact we thought we had, if any. Midway through the conversation, Linda Clogg’s (Clogg Landscape Associates, Wixom, Mich.) phone buzzed alerting a new email. The smile that came across Linda’s face as she read the message gave us our answer. The email from her congressman’s office, whom we had spoken to only a couple of hours earlier, assuring us the congressman would cosponsor the bill. All because we did the simplest thing in the world. We told him about it.

Is it our government’s fault they don’t know people are suing business for slipping and falling on snow and ice? Or is it our fault for not educating them sooner?

Thirty seconds into the conversation with a federal representative, they stopped me and said “Wait a minute, you mean to tell me people are suing other people in the U.S. for slipping and falling on snow and ice?” They didn’t know. How are they supposed to do something if we haven’t told them there is a problem?

Mike Jones, of True North Outdoor, Kansas City, and a 2014 Leadership Award recipient, joined the first trip to D.C. Six month later Mike admitted the only reason he went was because I begged him to go and there were a lot of touristy things to do. He told me he didn’t think we would accomplish anything. Until we walked into the Rayburn Building’s congressional offices and started meetings with our elected officials. Today, Mike chairs the ASCA’s Government Affairs Committee.

It is our responsibility to educate our elected officials on the business issues we face and the impact these types of legislative changes would have on our community.

For details about and to register for ASCA’s Day on the Hill, go to