Law and Disorder

Your November 2005 article [“ Hurt? Injured? Need a Lawyer? Too Bad!”], ostensibly on tort reform, was disappointing in its limited and biased coverage of the litigation reforms of the past decade, the grassroots movement that generated those reforms, and the improvements in Texas law and society that the reforms have produced. Those reforms have been passed in successive sessions of the Texas Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan majorities because legislators believed sincerely, and correctly, that they were acting in the best interest of the people of Texas.

The civil justice reform movement in Texas is broadly based. Texans for Lawsuit Reform has 13,700 supporters in cities and towns throughout Texas, representing 1,200 trades, professions, and businesses. TLR is one organization in a tort reform coalition of scores of organizations and associations that represent every aspect of Texas society. The tort reform movement arose in response to a civil justice system of the eighties and early nineties that was firmly in the grasp of a small group of personal-injury plaintiff’s lawyers who had extraordinary influence in the Legislature, the Supreme Court, and the local courts. As a consequence, most defendants in Texas feared they could not get a fair trial. The problems were so pervasive that only a persistent effort of more than a decade has restored significant fairness and balance to the law governing our civil justice system.

In the last legislative session, Texas enacted historic asbestos-silica litigation reform in Senate Bill 15, which passed the Senate 30—0 and the House by voice vote without dissent. TLR led the legislative advocacy for that bill, and our lead counsel conducted two weeks of discussions with the plaintiffs’ bar in the Senate’s conference rooms. SB 15 will halt the abusive practice of lawyers’ filing claims for unimpaired asbestos and silica claimants, a practice that has bankrupted more than seventy U.S. companies and cost tens of thousands of American jobs. This abuse has been documented by a Texas federal judge, Janis Jack, who conducted hearings on hundreds of silica claims (sponsored by some of the same law firms and attempting to replicate the abuse of claims on

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