Opinion: Crazy California courts an issue as Texas companies expand reach

Via the Austin Business Journal

By: Jill Shackelford

Over the past two decades, Texas has created one of the most respected legal climates in the country. From being known as a “judicial hellhole” to becoming a beacon for meaningful reform, Texas has designed a blueprint for spurring economic success, while at the same time maintaining access to our courts and even increasing access to vital services such as health care.

While Texas has continued to pave the way for thoughtful reform, other states have gone the opposite direction, continuing to encourage lawsuit abuse that costs jobs. California, which has been named the nation’s worst “judicial hellhole” two years in a row by the American Tort Reform Association, has consistently seen jobs migrate to the Lone Star State due to California’s ever-increasing cost of doing business. One of the main drivers of the Golden State’s problems is its toxic legal climate.

In short: Texas’ legal climate is at the top of its game, while California’s remains under the thumb of personal injury lawyers.

So, why are we worried?

Abusive lawsuits from California continue to impact Texas-based businesses. From Austin-based Whole Foods Market Inc., which got sucked into California-based lawsuits this past summer, to the ever-popular Austin-based Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which was recently hit with a lawsuit regarding its very name, Texas employers continually are forced to shell out countless dollars fighting lawsuits.

Such detrimental lawsuits illustrate precisely why we must maintain a vigilant presence in and around the Texas Legislature to ensure personal injury lawyers fail in their attempts to turn back the clock on our reforms.

And make no mistake: Some personal injury lawyers want nothing more than to undo these reforms that have hamstrung their ability to profit from questionable legal practices, and they have not wavered in their attempts to funnel millions of dollars into political races across our state.

From funding fellow personal injury lawyers in Republican primaries to recently dumping a cool half-million in a competitive Texas Senate race, some personal injury lawyers are working tirelessly to recreate California’s detrimental legal climate in Texas.

The next time you head to the grocery store, or purchase your favorite mixed drink, remember that your pocketbook is taking a hit because of these lawsuits from the West Coast and elsewhere. Moreover, when you’re in the voting booth, it’s important to know where candidates stand on these important issues. If some personal injury lawyers are successful in their efforts to derail reform, they will make California’s lawsuit lunacy the new normal in Texas.

Jill Shackelford is chairwoman of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas.