FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Vanessa Cortez
April 7, 2015 (512) 476-7655
Legal Watchdog Groups Urges Support of Bill to Crack Down on Fraud and Personal Injury Lawyer “Double-Dipping” in Asbestos Litigation
AUSTIN – Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) groups across Texas today urged members of the Texas House Committee on the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence to support HB 1492 by Rep. Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels). The bill will crack down on personal injury lawyer fraud in asbestos litigation.
Over the last several years, enormous amounts of fraud and abuse of the asbestos trust system at the hands of some personal injury lawyers has been exposed in Texas and across the nation. Personal injury lawyers have been caught gaming the system through a process called “double-dipping” in which they sue a company and claim its products harmed their clients while simultaneously filing claims with asbestos trusts blaming other products for the same exact harm.
This abuse of the system allows lawyers to get double or multiple payouts for the same injury while reducing the resources available to compensate those who have been truly injured – many of whom are veterans. As personal injury lawyers file more specious trust claims, resources in the asbestos trusts are diminished and future claimants receive lower compensation
“Despite previous reforms that have attempted to stop this type of abuse, personal injury lawyers continue to find ways to manipulate the system to boost their profits,” said DeWitt Gayle, chairman of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas (CALACTX). “HB 1492 will stop this abuse and ensure our lawsuit system is used for justice – not greed.”
HB 1492 would require a plaintiff’s lawyer in an asbestos lawsuit to file claims with a bankruptcy trust, where injured individuals will receive the fastest compensation, before they can pursue additional litigation. By requiring transparency, it will discourage unjust “double dipping.”
“It is unacceptable for personal injury lawyers to engage in this unethical behavior to fatten their paychecks, especially when it reduces the resources available to compensate truly injured individuals,” said Julian Alvarez, president of Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (RGVCALA).
HB 1492 is being heard today in the Texas House Committee on the Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence. The legislation has many supporters including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Texans For Lawsuit Reform (TLR) and Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse (TALA).