Posts Tagged ‘Blog’

Houston litigation mill making national headlines

A Houston law firm’s questionable practices are now making national headlines, as Forbes recently reported. The curtain has been pulled back on an unscrupulous practice among tort mills and warehouses in this Houston case involving AkinMears. The buying and selling of civil lawsuits exposes the inner workings and ugly underbelly of a lawsuit machine driven by greed, not justice.

Most troubling is the fact that these tort mills, where suits are bought and sold among trial lawyers, are most directly and destructively impacting real people. When litigation mills are exposed, it raises the question, what happens to the plaintiffs that these trial lawyers supposedly care about? Treating lawsuits like a commodity destroys the integrity of the civil justice system and devalues the real people affected in these lawsuits.

As legal consumers, business owners and everyday citizens, we can and should call out these abusive practices whenever we can. And, remind policymakers and state leaders that we’re sick of lawsuits.

Just Like Texas Weather, Our Legal Climate Can Change Fast

Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week Shines Light on Need to Defend Reforms

By DeWitt Gayle

Texas’ legal climate can be a lot like Texas weather. The calendar may say autumn, but summer heat persists. Hot, fall days often give way to bursts of cooler temperatures or afternoon storms within the same week. Just as Texas weather can defy predictions, the legal climate in our state can change course, too. And, it’s not always for the better.

Texas’ significant progress over the past two decades to enact lawsuit reform that protects our civil justice system is often cited as a model nationally. But, as a recent study suggests, we can’t rest on past success.

A national survey released last month shows that even with 20 years of successful legal reforms, the everyday 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 U.S. Chamber Institute of Legal Reform’s 2015 Lawsuit Climate Survey.

It’s 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.

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 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.

So why should every day Texans be concerned about this latest Texas ranking? Seventy-five percent – an all-time high in the ILR survey – 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 means when a state permits lawsuit abuse, businesses will invest – and create jobs – elsewhere.

Lawsuit abuse impacts all of us – from our livelihoods, jobs and small businesses, to our personal access to health care providers, our schools and government. Consider that lawsuits cost small business owners in the United States $105.4 billion in 2008 alone.
As legal consumers, the choices we make determine whether we are part of the solution or contributing to the problem of lawsuit abuse. Our civil justice system should serve us when we truly need it, but we must be good stewards of that system, using it wisely and appropriately.
October 5-9 is Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, part of the year-round effort by Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA) to educate and raise awareness about the costs of lawsuit abuse, the benefits of legal reform and the importance of basic civic duties like jury service.
Each one of us – as citizen, voter, taxpayer, business owner and consumer – has the power to help curb abusive lawsuits and ensure fair access to our courts.
Start by showing up to serve on a jury when summoned. In some Texas counties 60 percent or more of jurors summoned simply don’t show up for jury duty, according to a recent TALA study.
Be a watchdog and call out abusive lawsuits in your community when they arise.
Consider arbitration over litigation when facing your own lawsuits in civil matters.

 
If we want to restore fairness and common sense to our court system, we need to be educated and engaged as voters. From the judges in the courthouse to the legislators in the statehouse in Austin, the men and women we elect impact and influence our judicial system. Electing good judges and policymakers is critical.
Even in a state known for embracing legal reform, things can change almost as fast as the Texas weather. Let’s remain vigilant and help preserve a civil justice system that serves us all.

 

DeWitt Gayle is the Chairman of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas (CALACTX)

Post-reforms, Texas continues to see a surge in new physicians

The Lone Star State licensed a record number of new physicians last year, according to Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA). The state licensed some 4,295 new doctors, surging past the 4,000 mark for the first time in Texas history. “Twelve years since the passage of our historic 2003 medical liability reforms, we continue to attract new physicians to Texas in record numbers,” said Austin internist Howard Marcus, M.D, chairman of Texas Alliance For Patient Access. “I don’t at all find that to be a coincidence.”

These numbers further prove that meaningful legal reforms work. Cracking down on abusive lawsuits while also preserving citizen’s access to the legal system has been a recipe for success in Texas. While other state’s lose both doctors and jobs, Texas continues to make gains in both areas.

Court shopping Texas trial lawyers head to Louisiana

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) organizations across the nation are well known for their watchdogging role. This is precisely what our friends at Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) are doing by exposing Texas trial lawyers who are traveling to the Bayou State to drum up lawsuits against Chesapeake Energy. LLAW Executive Director Melissa Landry writes on a Fort Worth based law firm that “reportedly spent millions on billboards and mass mailings to generate thousands of similar cases in Texas.” Landry goes on to describe the firm’s high-pressure sales tactics and no-risk offers to attract new customers. These types of tactics from trial lawyers are precisely the reason for stifled economic growth, higher costs of goods, and continued job loss. Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA) praises LLAW for their efforts to shine light on these abusive tactics.

To read more from LLAW, click here.