The Wall Street Journal recently made the case that “the era of tort lawsuits is waning,” but while numbers are down in Texas, there are plenty of signs that some personal injury lawyers aren’t letting up in their efforts to roll back lawsuit reforms and aggressively recruit plaintiffs.
The real story may be that it’s more of a mixed bag when it comes to the state of lawsuit abuse, requiring continued vigilance and defense of past reforms. Texas has made great strides and stands as a model for lawsuit reform in the nation, but we’ve also found ourselves back on the Judicial Hellholes lists in recent years, signaling the fight over abusive, costly lawsuits is far from over.
The good news is that the decline in some suits may point to the fact that more people are turning to arbitration and mediation as good options, instead of heading straight to the courthouse. But, many in the personal injury lawyer industry loathe arbitration as it undermines their bottom line and ability to collect larger fees from lawsuits.
On the other hand, just because lawsuits aren’t making it to courts doesn’t mean abuses aren’t still happening. Many personal injury lawyers use the threat of lawsuit to pressure businesses to settle to make the lawsuit go away. The recent increase in shake-down style of ADA lawsuits targeting small business is one such example.
And, the fact is federal courts have seen an increase in some mass litigation cases. The aggressive marketing to recruit plaintiffs and significant uptick in plaintiff lawyer advertising that organizations like ours have highlighted is troubling. Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse continues to raise awareness of these sorts of misleading, aggressive advertising tactics through our “Don’t Let a Lawyer Be Your Doctor” public education campaign.
All of this points to the fact that it’s far from the end of an era when it comes to frivolous lawsuits.
Jennifer Harris is the Executive Director of Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA).