Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’

Just Like Texas Weather, Our Legal Climate Can Change Fast

Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week Shines Light on Need to Defend Reforms

By DeWitt Gayle

Texas’ legal climate can be a lot like Texas weather. The calendar may say autumn, but summer heat persists. Hot, fall days often give way to bursts of cooler temperatures or afternoon storms within the same week. Just as Texas weather can defy predictions, the legal climate in our state can change course, too. And, it’s not always for the better.

Texas’ significant progress over the past two decades to enact lawsuit reform that protects our civil justice system is often cited as a model nationally. But, as a recent study suggests, we can’t rest on past success.

A national survey released last month shows that even with 20 years of successful legal reforms, the everyday actions of judges and juries continue to impact perceptions of the Texas legal climate with excessive awards in key areas, driving down confidence in the legal system here and dropping Texas four places in the U.S. Chamber Institute of Legal Reform’s 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey.

It’s a clear reminder that when it comes to a legal reform, our work in Texas is never done and our successes in the Legislature cannot be taken for granted.

We are seeing outsized verdicts in some jurisdictions and we have suffered the effects of aggressive and entrepreneurial personal injury lawyers who turn litigation into a cottage industry that can impact the entire state. The excessive rise in litigation related to hailstorms in Texas is a perfect example of how quickly a new rash of lawsuits from enterprising personal injury lawyers, can take hold of the state.

So why should every day Texans be concerned about this latest Texas ranking? Seventy-five percent – an all-time high in the ILR survey – of attorneys at U.S. companies say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, including where to locate or expand. That means when a state permits lawsuit abuse, businesses will invest – and create jobs – elsewhere.

Lawsuit abuse impacts all of us – from our livelihoods, jobs and small businesses, to our personal access to health care providers, our schools and government. Consider that lawsuits cost small business owners in the United States $105.4 billion in 2008 alone.
As legal consumers, the choices we make determine whether we are part of the solution or contributing to the problem of lawsuit abuse. Our civil justice system should serve us when we truly need it, but we must be good stewards of that system, using it wisely and appropriately.
October 5-9 is Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, part of the year-round effort by Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA) to educate and raise awareness about the costs of lawsuit abuse, the benefits of legal reform and the importance of basic civic duties like jury service.
Each one of us – as citizen, voter, taxpayer, business owner and consumer – has the power to help curb abusive lawsuits and ensure fair access to our courts.
Start by showing up to serve on a jury when summoned. In some Texas counties 60 percent or more of jurors summoned simply don’t show up for jury duty, according to a recent TALA study.
Be a watchdog and call out abusive lawsuits in your community when they arise.
Consider arbitration over litigation when facing your own lawsuits in civil matters.
If we want to restore fairness and common sense to our court system, we need to be educated and engaged as voters. From the judges in the courthouse to the legislators in the statehouse in Austin, the men and women we elect impact and influence our judicial system. Electing good judges and policymakers is critical.
Even in a state known for embracing legal reform, things can change almost as fast as the Texas weather. Let’s remain vigilant and help preserve a civil justice system that serves us all.

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DeWitt Gayle is the Chairman of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas (CALACTX)

Post-reforms, Texas continues to see a surge in new physicians

The Lone Star State licensed a record number of new physicians last year, according to Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA). The state licensed some 4,295 new doctors, surging past the 4,000 mark for the first time in Texas history. “Twelve years since the passage of our historic 2003 medical liability reforms, we continue to attract new physicians to Texas in record numbers,” said Austin internist Howard Marcus, M.D, chairman of Texas Alliance For Patient Access. “I don’t at all find that to be a coincidence.”

These numbers further prove that meaningful legal reforms work. Cracking down on abusive lawsuits while also preserving citizen’s access to the legal system has been a recipe for success in Texas. While other state’s lose both doctors and jobs, Texas continues to make gains in both areas.

Legal Reform is Missing Piece in Florida

Via Sick of Lawsuits

 

Guest post written by Jennifer Harris, CALACTX Spokesperson. 

Florida governor Rick Scott recently announced his plans to visit Pennsylvania, among a handful of other states he’s targeted –  New York, Illinois and California to start –  as part of a strategy to lure businesses and jobs to Florida and boost the state’s economy. Scott’s pitch showcases Florida as a low-tax, lightly regulated destination where companies can thrive. Sound familiar? This is a play borrowed straight from Texas governor Rick Perry, known for his sweeping legal reform packages that gave Texas a “posterchild” status when it comes to creating a business-friendly environment.

States like New York, Illinois and California have treacherous legal environments chalk full of abusive lawsuits that increase prices and prevent businesses from being able to create new jobs. Governor Perry saw this as an opportunity to aggressively pursue companies based in these states and convince them to move to Texas.

While Governor Perry achieved impressive results for us in Texas, luring dozens of businesses to our state – including Toyota – Governor Scott’s plan overlooks one important factor, which Perry mentioned last week in his farewell address to the legislature: “Our formula for success is simple: keep taxes low, implement smart regulations, provide an educated workforce and stop lawsuit abuse at the courthouse.” It’s the last point – stopping lawsuit abuse – that Scott is forgetting, and it’s an issue that he’ll need to focus on if he plans to bring more jobs to Florida.

Without legal reform, Perry would not have been successful, and businesses never would have migrated to the Lone Star State.  For Rick Scott and other governors seeking to attract businesses and create jobs, it is essential that they prioritize commonsense reform; otherwise, businesses face little protection from the rampant lawsuit abuse seen across the country. Florida has struggled in the last several years, partly because of the overly litigious environment. Between ADA abuse and suspicious relationships between personal injury lawyers and doctors, Floridians are constantly being victimized by lawsuits that take advantage of the legal system rather than acting as a route to justice.

Not all governors have missed this memo. Bruce Rauner, the governor of Illinois, released a plan to help the state create jobs and grow its economy, including adoption of meaningful legal reform.  The plan calls for the amendment of certain Illinois laws to ensure lawsuits are held in logical and fair locations. It is this type of reform that will compel businesses to remain or move to Illinois, creating jobs for the state’s residents. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, tort reform could increase employment in Illinois by 1 to 2.5 percent.

Governor Rauner is on the road that Perry paved in Texas, but Florida’s Scott seems to have gotten off an exit too soon. Governor Scott must recognize the importance of creating a fair and just litigation environment. Otherwise, he will face a steep, uphill battle trying to persuade businesses to move to Florida.

Senator Cruz Answers The Call

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) reported for jury duty last week in Houston. The Junior Senator from the Lone Star State stressed the importance of answering the call and serving on a jury, despite he himself being exempt from jury duty as a federal lawmaker. “I would certainly encourage everyone else when you get a jury summons to come down to participate,” Cruz said. “It’s like voting. It’s part of the responsibilities of the citizen.”

Senator Cruz’s appearance for jury duty ties directly into Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse’s (CALA) campaign to increase jury duty response rates across Texas. In 2014, CALA released a detailed study highlighting low response rates throughout the state. In response, Governor Rick Perry declared July of 2014 “Jury Service Awareness Month.”

To read the full story of Senator Cruz’s appearance for jury duty, click here.

To see the full CALA report on jury duty, click here.

5,800 frivolous lawsuits and counting

An inmate in Florence, Arizona has filled upwards of 5,800 federal lawsuits across the nation asking for $10 trillion in return.

The lawsuits that 62 year old Dale Maisano has filed are primarily in contest of the food served at the prison where he is serving a 15 year sentence for aggravated assault.

Doug Nick from the Arizona Department of Corrections assures that the inmates are being provided appropriate health care and nutrition.

To read more about how Maisano is passing his time in prison by filing frivolous lawsuits, click here.

TASTELESS SAN ANTONIO LAW FIRM’S ADVERTISEMENT

We write today to inform you of a tasteless ad that was purchased by a San Antonio law firm, Villarreal & Begum that portrays truckers as serial killers. The ad shows that even in a state known for embracing legal reform, lawyers will continue to troll for lawsuits.

Published in Maxim magazine, the ad encourages individuals to contact the firm, based in San Antonio, to sue truckers. The ad has generated a backlash among the trucking industry, and Maxim has removed the ad from its digital copy and has begun removing the print editions from truck stops.

Texas has taken major strides to reform our civil justice laws. Our courts and laws have improved, but we can’t legislate personal responsibility. It’s up to each and every Texan to be a smart legal consumer and do their part to stop lawsuit abuse.

To see the ad and the backlash it caused, click here.

The most frivolous lawsuit…. Ever?

After previously suing the People’s Republic of China, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, and Wachovia, a New York Man is now suing the City of New York and many others for $2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Yes, you read that correctly.

He alleges that a “rabies-infected” dog bit his finger on a New York City bus, LaGuardia Airport routinely over-charges him for coffee, and people are taking pictures of him without his consent. This by far is in the running for the most frivolous lawsuit ever. To read the full article, click here.

While Texas lags behind, Tennessee becomes the second state to rein in lawsuit lenders

Following Oklahoma’s lead, The Volunteer State become the second state in the nation to rein the predatory lawsuit lending industry. These often predatory lenders take advantage of legal consumers when they are most vulnerable, offering easy “up-front” cash, and then charging interest rates as high as 150%. Attempts were made during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session to bring these lenders under the same regulatory mechanisms as traditional lenders in Texas but were unsuccessful. While Texas lags behind in this area of reform, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, and Rhode Island are all considering lawsuit lending regulation bills. To read the full release on the legislation, click here.