Needed Tort Reform That Libs Will Fight, Texas Showed Us How To Do It
‘Loser Pays,’ Texas Small Business Wins
May 31, 2011
By Stephen DeMaura
Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas state legislature want the rest of the country to hear this message loud and clear: The Lone Star State is open for business.
In a unanimous vote last week, the Texas senate adopted ‘loser pays’ tort-reform legislation, which says that a plaintiff must pay the winning party’s legal fees if their complaint is judged to be groundless. On Wednesday, the Texas house concurred. Governor Perry, who had championed the legislation from its inception, signed it Monday night.
The Wall Street Journal editorialized, “This Texas upgrade will build on reforms in 2003 and 2005 that have vastly improved the legal climate in what has not coincidentally become the country’s best state for job creation. Texas rewrote everything from class-action certification to product liability” — and I would add the state’s medical-malpractice reforms to that list.
No wonder the nation’s CEOs list Texas as the best state for business.
The success of ‘loser pays’ is destined to be viewed as a key victory for the Republican legislature over a group that once enjoyed almost limitless influence in the state: the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, which lobbied aggressively against the law. Prior to the reforms instituted in 2003 and 2005, Texas was an ambulance chaser’s paradise. Nowadays, even the $13 million the trial lawyers spent to defeat Perry and other pro-tort-reform Republicans in the 2010 election had little impact. In a stunning rebuke, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst stared down the trial lawyer lobby and shepherded the measure through to a 31–0 vote in the Senate.