Small Business, Community Leaders Call on Texas Legislature
to Strengthen Lawsuit Reform
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) leaders are launching a digital campaign to highlight the benefits of lawsuit reform in Texas and to urge lawmakers to continue to rein in abusive lawsuits in the state.
Common-sense lawsuit reforms in Texas are widely credited with creating and retaining jobs, helping small employers, and improving access to health care by adding new primary care and specialty care doctors – including in underserved areas of the state.
“Without a doubt, lawsuit reform contributes to a strong business climate,” said Mike Hachtman, a Houston business leader and chair of Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA). “While we continue to see evidence of abusive lawsuits and questionable legal practices, over the past three decades, Texas has gone from the epicenter of lawsuit abuse to a beacon for smart reforms.”
“Now, we not only need to protect past reforms, but we should also look at additional ways to ensure our courts are used for justice, not greed,” Hachtman said.
Part of the TALA digital campaign includes a video series and social media graphics featuring Texans discussing the impact of lawsuit abuse and the positive impact of reforms. To view the videos, see the TALA YouTube page. To see some of the social graphics, click here.
“Reform works, and that’s why we are asking Texas legislators to not only protect past lawsuit reforms, but to continue to tackle the abusive lawsuits and legal practices that continue to affect businesses and consumers,” said D’Anne Buquet, a small business owner and board member of Bay Area CALA in Corpus Christi.
Added Roger Borgelt, chair of CALA of Central Texas in Austin: “Lawsuit reforms passed in Texas allow employers to feel more comfortable doing business here. These reforms are giving small business owners confidence and peace of mind that they can focus on job creation, not fighting costly lawsuits.”
To address abuses in civil lawsuits and protect past reforms, TALA and CALA leaders are engaging the Legislature this session on a range of lawsuit reform topics, including the following:
- Commercial construction-related lawsuits – CALA leaders urge the Legislature to take action to stop abusive commercial construction-related lawsuits in which sub-contractors are roped into a suit alleging a construction defect – even when the subcontractors had no part in the alleged defect. Defending even a baseless claim can still cost a small business subcontractor dearly.
- Public nuisance lawsuits: Public nuisance lawsuits were typically filed to address private conduct that interfered with the use of public property, such as lakes, rivers and roadways. However, some personal injury lawyers have expanded the use of these claims to address a range of alleged harms involving varied industries and products, including lead paint, opioids and even climate change-related issues. In many cases, the Legislature – not the courts – is the best place to address policy matters raised by public nuisance lawsuits. It’s time to rein in this improper expansion of public nuisance claims, while ensuring other legal avenues remain to address issues that impact the public.
- Establish a dedicated business court: CALA leaders support the creation of a specialized business court in Texas to hear only business-to-business lawsuits. Such a court would track with the civil justice systems in 29 other states. It would provide the kind of consistency and efficiency that could help deliver faster resolution to complex business lawsuits, freeing up other courts to carry out other business.
- Protect medical liability reforms: CALA strongly supports preserving the 2003 medical liability reforms enacted by the Legislature and ratified by voters. Passage of these reforms has substantially reduced Texas medical liability-related lawsuits and liability costs, allowing the state to attract new doctors.
“Since passage of the 2003 medical liability reforms, the number of specialists treating high-risk patients has grown faster than the state’s population,” said Jon Opelt, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Patient Access and a former leader of Houston CALA. “Today, the state has more direct patient care doctors per capita than ever. Critical care services are now more readily available for rural Texas residents. The number of rural obstetricians has grown nearly three times faster than the state’s rural population. And 62 rural counties have added at least one emergency medicine doctor since the passage of the 2003 reforms.”
“The benefits of reform are undeniable,” Hachtman added.