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Governor Declares Tort Deform an Emergency?

Photo of Randy Sorrels

With all of the issues facing state and local governments, Gov. Rick Perry declared tort deform an emergency issue that needed to be immediately decided by the Texas Legislature just last week. I use the term "tort deform" because the term "tort reform" really is not a reformation of the tort system - - but instead is an effort by certain special interest groups to limit access to the court system for certain groups of people. "Tort reform" activists are really seeking to provide those special-interest groups unchecked legal protections that have been abused in the past and will, no doubt, be abused in the future.

Although the declaration of "emergency" issues is typically done at the beginning of a legislative session, on May 6, 2011 Gov. Rick Perry declared the tort issues an "emergency" that needed to be addressed immediately and authorized the Texas House of Representatives to bypass certain checks and balances set out in our Texas legislative procedural rules. The tort issue did not arise just last week. What occurred last week included a procedural miscue by the special-interest groups seeking to advance this grossly inequitable platform.

One Texas Trial Lawyers Association leader noted, "It's a bad bill and it is not in the interest of Texans or small businesses in the state.... It has morphed into a bill that could apply not only to a frivolous lawsuit but to a lawsuit that someone happened to lose."

It is a difficult issue to explain to people who aren't regular users of the judicial process, but I encourage you to become educated on the tort issues. Contact me if I can answer any questions on why the proposed legislation is bad for Texas, bad for individuals and bad for businesses. Rest assured, there is no emergency in our tort system that needs addressing. Governor Perry - let's focus on the real emergency issues facing our state and set aside politics for the next month to try to solve some real problems.

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