Texas Gets It Right Again


From the Wall Street Journal:

Republicans picked up 16 governorships and at least 675 state legislative seats in November, and some of them are using this new running room to get creative. One Governor out of the gate early is Texan Rick Perry, who wants to extend his state’s impressive tort reform record.

Most notably, Mr. Perry is proposing a British-style “loser pays” rule, which would require plaintiffs to pick up the legal costs of their targets if they lose their suits. Almost all of America’s economic competitors follow a similar standard, but trial lawyers and their Democratic codependents have blocked states from making this revolutionary improvement to U.S. civil justice.

Americans now spend more on tort litigation than they do on new cars. The courts are choked with such high crimes as the $54 million pair of pants that a D.C. dry cleaner allegedly ruined in 2007. A procedural reform like loser pays to deter junk lawsuits would make the legal system less of a drag on the economy and less of a political tool for redistributing wealth.

Mr. Perry’s proposal isn’t the pure version of loser pays, in which the losing party—plaintiff or defendant—is responsible for the winner’s attorneys fees. Instead, it adds an extra disincentive for the tort industry to bring suits that Texas law already defines as “groundless.” The lawyers and firms that file such claims would in almost all cases pay the penalty, a downside they’d have to weigh against their chances of personal enrichment.

At the same time, to speed compensation to genuine victims, Mr. Perry would create new legal channels to expedite smaller claims (below $100,000). Judges would also be barred from creating causes of action from the bench that haven’t been approved by the state legislature.

This Texas upgrade would 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. One success was rationalizing the asbestos-silica litigation scam. Another was an overhaul of medical malpractice laws, ending the practice of venue shopping for friendly judges and putting a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.

Before the reform, Texas was a kind of holy place on the tort bar pilgrimage. Now it’s a Mecca for doctors, especially the emergency physicians, obstetricians and surgical specialists who elsewhere can face blue-sky malpractice premiums. Liability rates have fallen by 27.5% on average since 2003. The number of doctors applying to practice in Texas has increased 60%, even as the overall population grew by 14%.

Source

HT: Dennis Prager

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One thought on “Texas Gets It Right Again

  1. Ah, yes, Mr. Fancy Pants

    After two days the judge threw it out and allowed the plaintif to recover all court costs.

    I will be the first to admit that our justice system is not perfect nor is it efficient but what other system is there that each of us has access to out our very backdoor. There is no other system closer to us then our courts; a system that is a core value of what it means to be an American living in this Democracy.

    The jury system is part of the soul of America. It is a system with the beauty of simplicity and the power of the wisdom of ordinary people. It is this same wisdom that Rep. Spencer Bachus talked about in his recent debate about health care reform. The simple beauty of juries involves the following.

    The system has a lawyer for the plaintiff and a lawyer or lawyers for the defendant. There is one judge, the referee, and twelve citizens called the jury. Each side tells their story and presents their facts. When each side has completed their arguments and presented all of their facts the judge tells the jury the laws that must be applied when deciding the case. The jury then moves to deliberate the case in private amongst themselves.

    It is the jury that the Republicans, the US Chamber of Commerce and big business are really complaining about, the common man, you and I. Do they not believe we are not capable of making decisions about how to live our lives, that we are not capable of governing ourselves, that we are not capable as fully informed citizens to make decisions about the conscience of our community? Is this what we believe? I would argue otherwise.

    Our Founding Fathers recognized the collective wisdom and judgment of its citizens and also understood that each of us unconsciously seeks those bits of information that confirm our underlying intuition. This is why the founding fathers gave us a system that allows for dissent. This confrontation forces us, the majority, to interrogate our own positions more seriously.

    Yes, the jury system is not perfect, but neither is any institution that man creates and participates in because we ourselves are fallible. Given all of its imperfections the jury system is a microcosm of the very Democracy that men and woman have died for through our history. Yes, again I will say the jury system is not perfect but it is ours.

    A jury is made up of local citizens who are in the best position to evaluate how the conduct at issue compares with the standards of the community in which they live.

    The jury system is spontaneous, it is not known in advance preventing any undue influence on the members of the jury.

    Jurors are not paid by either side.

    Jurors complete their service and return to their private lives when the trial has ended. Judges are often on the bench for many years leaving them vulnerable to influence.

    While it may be easy to find one judge that is out of touch with the community, it is much harder to find a jury of citizens that will come to an outrageous result.

    So I ask you, what other place is there to better discover the truth and render justice? What other institution in this country does the common man have access to then a court out his backdoor?

    I will conclude with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, a powerful statement about the soul of America. “I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education.”

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