FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 05/10/2011
The Texas House Passes Tort Reform Package
AUSTIN – The Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 274. This omnibus bill contains five civil justice reforms designed to discourage non-meritorious lawsuits and increase the efficiency of litigation. As Vice-Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Torts, I worked very closely with the author of this bill and the relevant stakeholders, including representatives of business and both sides of the Bar.
As passed, the Bill includes incentives for parties to make early settlement offers, while encouraging opposing parties to accept reasonable offers. I believe this Bill corrects an imbalance in the current "offer of settlement" practice and encourages early and fair resolutions of lawsuits.
The Bill also addresses the need for expedited civil actions where the amount in dispute is more than $10,000 but less than $100,000; prohibits the creation of new causes of action unless explicitly stated in a statute; allows for the creation of a new procedure for early dismissal of meritless claims; and also allows a pre-trial appeal of trial court rulings on issues of law, rather than having the parties incur the expense and time of a full trial unnecessarily. As amended, no part of the Bill is applicable to family law.
“As a practicing attorney who tries cases to Texas juries, I know how important the jury system is to dispute resolution in a free society. In order to protect that system, we need to guard it from abuse and decrease the financial burdens of civil litigation on the litigants. I feel the Bill we passed will help insure we maintain a jury system that has served us well for hundreds of years."
Sarah Davis represents West University Place, Bellaire, River Oaks, Braeswood Place, Southside Place, portions of Meyerland and Montrose, and the Texas Medical Center.