New Hidalgo County Study Raises Questions About Influx of Lawsuits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         Contact: John Horton
August 18, 2014                                                       Phone: 512-476-8626

McALLEN, Texas- Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (RGVCALA) today unveiled a new study highlighting a “rush to the courthouse in Hidalgo County” and raising the possibility that the sudden upsurge in lawsuits reflects widespread practices of lawsuit abuse that may be going unnoticed.

The study, commissioned by RGVCALA and conducted by MB Public Affairs, Inc., examines lawsuit courthouse filings stemming from two hailstorms that struck the county in March and April of 2012. According to the study, almost half of all hailstorm lawsuits were filed in the two month period of March-April 2014, as the statute of limitations neared for insurance disputes from the Hidalgo County hailstorms. The study also revealed that this multitude of lawsuits was filed by a small number of law firms.

“As a local watchdog on our legal system, we noticed this influx of lawsuits and wanted to make sure that our system isn’t used for greed with a rush of filings,” said RGVCALA Executive Director Febe Zepeda. “It’s our organization’s job to make sure we’re educating citizens so they don’t fall prey to any trial lawyer tactics trying to stir up lawsuits for personal profit.”

Key findings from the RGVCALA Hidalgo County hailstorm study include:

• Between April 1, 2012 and April 30, 2014 a total of 5,740 “Hail Storm 2012” cases were filed in Hidalgo County.
• Of those cases, 2,513 were filed in March and April of 2014, meaning just under half of all the “Hail Storm 2012” cases were filed in the final two months of the period reviewed.

The full study can be found online by clicking here.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), insurance companies paid out claims to homeowners in Hidalgo County, totaling more than $550 million, with an additional $47 million in payouts going to vehicle owners in Hidalgo and Cameron counties.

“Despite these payments, trial lawyers flooded the county in the final months of the filing period looking for more,” said Zepeda. “Even as Texas has made major strides in curbing abusive lawsuits, trial lawyers are still finding ways to file questionable lawsuits and clog our courts.”

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