FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Jennifer Harris
SEPTEMBER 10, 2015 (512) 773-7168
Survey of legal counsel and lawyers with experience in Texas gives low marks in state for judicial competency, and fairness of judges and juries
AUSTIN – (Sept. 10, 2015) A national survey released today shows that even with 20 years of legal reform, the every day 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 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States.
“This survey, and our drop in the ranking, is 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,” said Jennifer Harris, spokesperson with Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse. “Beyond the State Capitol, judges and juries are the lifeblood of our civil justice system and their actions, and perceived level of competency, impact our litigation climate on a daily basis. At TALA, it’s one of the reason we continue in every election cycle to remind Texans that Good Judges Matter and urge citizens to answer the call to serve on a jury.”
Harris noted the survey likely does not reflect many recent legislative improvements to Texas’ lawsuit climate, including some passed in 2015.
“Even with the passage of some key reforms in 2015, this is a wake up call for Texas,” Harris said. “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 two 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.”
The survey was released today by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). Texans ranked 40th out of 50 states, a drop of four places since the survey was last conducted in 2012.
It also showed that companies say a state’s lawsuit climate is more important than ever in deciding where to grow, with 75 percent 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 is an 18 percent increase from eight years ago, and an all-time high, according to ILR.
Also of note for Texas, survey participants also singled out East Texas, Los Angeles, California, and New Orleans/Orleans Parish, Louisiana, as some of the least fair jurisdictions nationally.
Harris Poll, a global polling firm, conducted the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey through telephone and online interviews between March 9 and June 24, 2015. The respondents were more than 1,200 general counsels and senior attorneys or leaders in companies with annual revenues of at least $100 million. A full copy of the 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey is available online at:http://www.instituteforlegalreform.com/.
ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state, and local levels.
Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA) is a non-profit, statewide grassroots coalition dedicated to educating the public about the cost and consequences of lawsuit abuse, challenging those who abuse our legal system, and returning common sense and fairness to our courts. Created by citizens concerned about junk lawsuits and the price we all pay for lawsuit abuse, TALA is supported by thousands of small businesspeople, health care providers, consumers and taxpayers.
TALA works with Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) groups throughout the state. Launched in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley in 1990, the CALA movement has spread across the country. In the Lone Star State alone, more than 25,000 Texans support CALA chapters in East Texas, Houston, Central Texas, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley.