Gov. Perry: We Need Increased Accountability, Efficiency In Our Legal System

September 15, 2010

Announces Four-Point Lawsuit Reform Initiative; Accepts Endorsement of Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC

HOUSTON – Gov. Rick Perry today accepted the endorsement of Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) PAC where he also announced a new lawsuit reform initiative that will build upon the successful lawsuit reforms implemented throughout the state in 2003.

“Our 2003 medical lawsuit reforms improved patient access and the supply of medical professionals across our state, but more is needed to restrain frivolous lawsuits and personal injury lawyers.” said Gov. Perry. “Despite the significant lawsuit reforms passed earlier this decade, Texans and Texas employers are still hit with frivolous lawsuits that cost thousands or even millions of dollars in legal fees to defend. It is time to introduce a higher degree of balance and accountability into our legal system.”

Gov. Perry is proposing a four-point approach that will limit unfounded claims and bring greater accountability and efficiency to our judicial system:

• Loser Pays for Frivolous Lawsuits: If a court determines that a lawsuit is groundless or a jury determines a suit is frivolous, then the plaintiff should be required to pay the defendant's attorney's fees.

• Early Dismissal for Frivolous Lawsuits: Forty-two states and the federal courts already have this mechanism in place for the early dismissal of clearly frivolous lawsuits. If a lawsuit is frivolous, Texas judges should be able to dismiss the case immediately before the legal bills pile up and the trial court should award attorney fees to the defendant.

• Legislature Determines New Causes of Action: Texas judges should not be permitted to create a cause of action from the bench. We should require the legislature to explicitly state when they are creating a new cause of action in statute, forcing courts to read statutes strictly, and providing only those rights and remedies the legislature intended.

• Increased Access to Courts for Legitimate Claims: The court system should be more accessible to Texans with legitimate claims without the incurred costs associated with a drawn out trial. Lawsuits with claims between $10,000 and $100,000 should have expedited trial settings and limited discovery in order to get litigants in and out of the court quickly and allow swifter recovery for damages.

With these reforms in place, a lawsuit would get quick review by a judge and either be tossed for its frivolous nature, expedited because of its small size, or directed through the traditional track of litigation. These reforms would further improve the legal climate in our state, further stimulate our economy and ratchet up the fairness of our system.

These measures will build upon the success Texas has achieved since medical malpractice reforms were approved by voters in 2003. Since then the number of doctors applying to practice in Texas has increased 60 percent and 17,625 doctors either returned to practice in Texas or began practicing here for the first time, bringing critical specialties to underserved areas of the state. In addition, more than 20 counties now have their first emergency room doctors and a dozen counties have a licensed obstetrician for the first time. Ten new insurance carriers have also entered the Texas market, contributing to a 27 percent decrease in doctors’ insurance rates.

“Gov. Perry is the strongest pro-tort reform governor in the nation. His commitment to lawsuit reform has been strong, consistent and exceptionally effective,” said Richard W. Weekley, founder of TLR. “During his tenure as governor and with his leadership, Texas has enacted the most comprehensive lawsuit reforms in our nation’s history. These reforms have strengthened our economy, created new jobs for Texans, improved access to health care and restored public trust to our courts.”

Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC joins the following organizations in their endorsement of Gov. Perry in the general election:

Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas PAC
Associated General Contractors of America Texas Building Branch PAC
Associated Security Services and Investigators of the State of Texas
Automotive Parts and Services Association
BEEF-PAC of Texas Cattle Feeders Association
Boating Trades Association of Texas PAC
Career Colleges and Schools of Texas
“C” Club of Houston
Exotic Wildlife Association
Independent Bankers Association of Texas
Recreational Fishing Alliance
Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas
Pasadena Police Officer’s Union
Sheriff Arvin West, Hudspeth County
Sheriff Clint McDonald, Terrell County
Sheriff Danny Dominguez, Presidio County
Sheriff Eusevio Salinas, Zavala County
Sheriff Rene Fuentes, Starr County
Sheriff Rick McIvor, Jeff Davis County
Sheriff Ronny Dodson, Brewster County
Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr., Zapata County
Sheriff Thomas Herrera, Maverick County
Southwest Movers Association
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility
Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association
Texas Alliance for Life PAC
Texas Allied Poultry Association
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association PAC
Texas Apartment Association
Texas Association for Interior Design
Texas Association of Business BACPAC
Texas Association of Dairymen PAC
Texas Association of Manufacturers
Texas Association of Licensed Investigators
Texas Association of Realtors ®
Texas Beverage Association
Texas Broiler Council
Texas Burglar and Fire Alarm Association
Texas Chapter of the American College of Cardiology Heart PAC
Texas Chiropractic Association
Texas Civil Justice League PAC
Texas Crane Association
Texas Department of Public Safety Officers Association PAC
Texas Economic Development Council PAC
Texas Egg Council
Texas Forestry Association Forestry PAC
Texas Home School Coalition PAC
Texas Hospital Association HOSPAC
Texas Locksmiths Association
Texas Medical Association TEXPAC
Texas Medical Defense PAC
Texas Municipal Police Association
Texas Nursery and Landscape Association PAC
Texas Ophthalmological Association
Texas Optometric Association PAC
Texas Organization of Residential Care Homes
Texas Pest Control Association
Texas Pharmacy Association PharmPAC
Texas Pharmacy Business Council
Texas Podiatric Medical Association
Texas Poultry Federation
Texas Poultry Improvement Association
Texas Process Servers Association
Texas Quarter Horse Association
Texas Recreational Fishing Alliance
Texas Recreational Vehicle Association
Texas Retailers Association PAC
Texas Right to Life PAC
Texas Society of Anesthesiologists PAC
Texas Society of Professional Engineers
Texas State Association of Fire Fighters
Texas Travel Industry Association
Texas Turkey Federation
Texas Wildlife Association
Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas PAC

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