It is no surprise that certain well funded organizations have allied themselves with the Democratic Party as a means of feathering their nest and facilitating the dissemination of their beliefs, most notably, the NTA, the NEA, big labor, and trial lawyers. Tort costs have always been a bone of contention with any real discussion on reform as it is no surprise how costly and damaging to the justice system frivolous lawsuits can be. In this area, there has been many individual state legislative pushes to adopt The English Rule, whereby loser pays the attorney’s fees of all involved as well as whatever court fees incurred.
I’ve mentioned Rick Perry in other threads as a possible GOP contender for the presidential race. Perry is the governor for the state of Texas. Although Perry has a budget problem (join the club) he is making his state much more business friendly. And tort reform was next on his “to do” list:
By a unanimous vote, the Texas Senate has just given final approval to a once-controversial “loser pays” bill designed to make it easier to get meritless lawsuits tossed out of court.
Passage of the measure had been one of the goals of Gov. Rick Perry and GOP conservative groups. But as recently as a week ago, approval of the new law remained in doubt, as various groups continued to battle over its provisions.
Then, after several days of closed-door talks, a surprise deal was announced Saturday on House Bill 274 that allowed for today’s vote.
The Senate vote came after almost no debate.
The popular argument against “loser pays” has always been that it would make valid suits brought by poor people prohibitive because they would not want to risk losing and lawyers would be hesitant to accept these types of cases with no readily visible cash cow. Larger corporations would be less likely to settle when they can transfer all their legal fees to the claimant. But the Texas law accounts for this, it provides an extra hurdle. “Loser pays” will require plaintiff’s to foot the bill of the winning party’s legal costs if a judge finds the case to be groundless, anything with merit (and in today’s courts this would be an easy test to pass) would not be held to this provision,seems fair to me. I think we can all agree that this sort of nonsense has to stop.
A court Thursday rejected an appeal filed by a former administrative law judge who sued a dry cleaners for $54 million over a missing pair of pants.
Other states, notably Oklahoma next door, South Carolina, and Penn. have similar bills in the works.
And with the removal of frivolous lawsuits, mal practice insurance for anyone that incurs liability (doctors, lawyers, municipalities that hire cops and firemen) will most certainly go down.
Before the reform, Texas was a kind of holy place on the tort bar pilgrimage. Now it’s a Mecca for doctors, especially the emergency physicians, obstetricians and surgical specialists who elsewhere can face blue-sky malpractice premiums. Liability rates have fallen by 27.5% on average since 2003. The number of doctors applying to practice in Texas has increased 60%, even as the overall population grew by 14%.
All of this is helping to end an acute Lone Star physicians shortage, especially in rural areas. Twenty-three counties now have their first E.R. doctor, 10 their first OB-GYN. Hospitals are reinvesting the malpractice savings in scarce services like neurosurgery and neonatal units and expanding access to care. This Texas success has opened eyes in nearby Oklahoma, where even Democrats have been forced to agree to some legal reforms.
I read articles all the time in my local paper how businesses are moving from my state (notice that chart I posted earlier or business friendly states, and where is California?). Many of these businesses are moving to Texas. And all this does is provide feathers for the cap of one Rick Perry, ya think is is getting in? Oh yeah.