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Reform Works

Texas’ 2003 medical liability reforms have attracted new doctors to the state.  More about these reforms and why preserving them are important to health care access can be found here at Texas Civil Justice League.

It Starts With You! Fairness in Our Legal System Is Up to Each of Us

By D’Anne Buquet, Sergio Contreras and Bobby Jenkins

Texans value the independence and freedom to make their own choices.  But those choices can have an impact in all aspects of our lives in Texas, including at the courthouse. And, in return, what happens in the courtrooms can impact every Texans’ lives and livelihoods, too.

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), a national movement of small business owners, medical professionals and community leaders committed to smart-minded lawsuit reform, has its roots right here in Texas. Over the years, we’ve been on the front lines of lawsuit reform and ensuring our courts are used for justice, not greed. But, one thing is clear, if we’re going to rein in lawsuit abuse, it starts with you.

That’s the name of our latest education and awareness campaign, one that we hope will get more Texans engaged in our civil justice system through jury service and being well informed about alternatives to lawsuits and how to choose a lawyer when you must sue.

Every day, Texans make choices and important contributions toward stopping lawsuit abuse. From small business owners calling out lawsuit abuse in their communities to local lawsuit abuse advocates making their voices heard at the State Capitol, we’ll say it again, it starts with you.

The Lone Star State was once the wild west of frivolous lawsuits and outlandish court awards, ranked among the American Tort Reform Association’s worst Judicial Hellholes. But over the years, supporters of the CALA movement successfully pressed for reforms to rein in abusive legal practices driving doctors out of under-served communities, exposing employers who own or operate delivery trucks to frivolous claims, and costing Texans jobs.  The goal has always been to embrace common-sense reforms to stop the abuse while preserving Texans’ access to our civil courts where and when they need it.

While Texas has enacted strong reforms over the past 20 years, it’s up to all of us to take it upon ourselves to be savvy legal consumers, to show up for jury service, to cast informed ballots every election, and to do all that we can ensure our courts are used for justice.

There are times when one may need to consult with a lawyer, if only to find out where you stand. Finding a lawyer is often like finding a doctor – usually you only look for one when you are in need of help. While selecting a lawyer isn’t easy, there are things you should know before hiring one and deciding whether to go forward with a lawsuit.

The civil justice system is designed to provide compensation for real injuries, and the more the system is abused, the less it’s able to help those who need it the most.

Our courts should not be used to seek revenge or try to “hit the lawsuit lottery.” Conflicts are inevitable in our society, but a lawsuit should be the last resort, not the first choice. Many disputes can be resolved informally, through phone calls, letters, or personal meetings. Make sure you have exhausted all other means before bringing a costly and disruptive lawsuit.

We think an informed Texan is the best tool to fight lawsuit abuse and to make informed decisions about when and how to find a lawyer when those circumstances warrant.  Becoming a sharp legal consumer means understanding your rights, asking the right questions, and being aware of potential pitfalls or common lawsuit scams.

Being a smart legal consumer can be the best weapon against lawsuit abuse. It really does start with you.

D’Anne Buquet is executive director of Bay Area Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse in Corpus Christi.

Sergio Contreras is president and CEO of Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. 

Bobby Jenkins is a board member of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas. He is president and CEO of ABC Home & Commercial Services. 

Statement from Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse Regarding Commercial Vehicle Lawsuit Reform Taking Effect on Sept. 1

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The following is a statement from Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA) regarding House Bill 19, which is aimed at reining in commercial vehicle lawsuit abuse and takes effect Sept. 1, 2021.  The bill was passed during this year’s regular session of the Texas Legislature and signed by Governor Greg Abbott in June.  The statement may be attributed to Marla Mathews, TALA spokesperson.

“With House Bill 19, Texas continues the state’s important work to support reforms that help ensure our civil courts are used for justice, not greed.  

“In the past 25-plus years, Texas lawmakers have made significant progress on reforms aimed at reining in abusive lawsuits and legal practices.  Once the poster child for lawsuit abuse, Texas continues to enact common-sense reforms, contributing to the state’s job-creating powers and business climate.

“With this reform, the state continues this important progress.”

Background on what led to HB 19

From fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2019, the number of motor vehicle lawsuits jumped 118 percent, according to the Texas Office of Court Administration. In contrast, other types of injury and damage cases decreased seven percent during the same period. 

Any truck or car with a company logo on it had become a target for abusive lawsuits, and as a result, insurance rates were skyrocketing, whether or not a company had been involved in an accident. That drove some trucking companies out of business. Nearly 88 percent of commercial carriers in Texas operate 10 or fewer vehicles, underscoring the fact that many of these employers are small businesses.

HB 19 includes needed changes to clarify the rules for how these lawsuits are handled and to ensure that juries have the facts they need to reach fair verdicts. The bill was authored by state Rep. Jeff Leach and sponsored by state Sen. Larry Taylor. 

TALA and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) groups advocated for the bill during this year’s regular legislative session. 

For more on Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse groups, visit

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ATRA’s Everlasting Judicial Hellholes®: A Long Hot 20 Years

Texas has made this Judicial Hellholes list a number of times – but we’ve been spared it in recent years.  Yet, we know lawsuit abuse does continue to fester in our state.  Just this year, legislators had to step in to rein in abusive lawsuits targeting employers who own or operate commercial trucks and cars for deliveries and services.   

Read more about what other states are facing with their hellholes, via American Tort Reform Foundation.