Small Business, Consumer Lawsuit Abuse Groups Laud Passage of HB 1774

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REFORM STRIKES BALANCE OF CONSUMER PROTECTION WHILE REINING IN ABUSIVE, STORM-CHASING PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS

Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse groups from across the state applauded the Texas House’s passage of House Bill 1774, legislation aimed at reining in hail storm lawsuit abuse, while ensuring consumers are protected.

“Across our state, we’ve seen an increasing number of hail storm lawsuits from a small number of personal injury lawyers who appear to be aggressively recruiting homeowners to serve as plaintiffs and ensnaring innocent bystanders in these suits, and today we applaud the Texas House for moving our state a step closer to reining in these costly, anti-consumer, storm-chasing lawsuits,” said Hazel Meaux, board member of Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA).

TALA noted that, among the bill’s provisions, House Bill 1774 puts teeth in a legal requirement that’s routinely ignored – notification of intent to sue from a lawyer to the insurer. By putting teeth in this requirement, a homeowner with a serious claim could expect a quicker settlement offer and resolution, potentially avoiding long and expensive legal fight.

“Nothing keeps a blue tarp on a roof longer than a lawsuit, and that’s why reforms are needed. HB 1774 protects the consumer while guarding against a lawyer gaming the system for their own profit,” said D’Anne Buquet, executive director of the Bay Area Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (BACALA). “We’re pleased to see the Texas House advance this common-sense reform.”

Added Sergio Contreras, executive director of the Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (RGVCALA), “The Rio Grande Valley has been labeled a Judicial Hellhole by the American Tort Reform Association for the hail storm lawsuit abuse that continues to plague the Valley.  We welcome the reforms that the Texas House has passed today.”

It was a report by the RGVCALA in 2014 that first shined a light on the abuses in hail storm litigation. The RGVCALA study showed that in the two years after significant hail storm events in Hidalgo County in 2012, nearly 6,000 lawsuits were filed with 40 percent of those suits filed by just seven personal injury lawyers. That trend is no longer limited to the Valley.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), weather-related litigation jumped 1,400 percent statewide after 2011.

“The Texas House’s passage of HB 1774 will help ensure that abusive hail storm lawsuits won’t burden our courts, drive up consumer and business insurance costs, and limit or eliminate access to coverage for some Texans,” said Roger Borgelt, board chairman of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas (CALACTX) in Austin. “It strikes the right balance between consumer protections and needed reforms ensure our courts are used for justice, not greed.”

“Texas had made great strides in the fight against lawsuit abuse, and today the Texas House moved us one-step closer to additional, much needed reforms to clamp down on some personal injury lawyers’ exploitation of the civil justice system for their own profit,” said Diane Davis, executive director of East Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (ETALA) in Longview.

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Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse is online at www.tala.com and on Twitter @TexasTALA.

Media Contact: Jennifer Harris, 512-773-7168