Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Governor's Initiatives - Lawsuit Reform

Employers aren't doing anyone any good if they're constantly tied up in court fighting frivolous lawsuits.

Texas has taken steps to improve our legal system, balancing the needs of private citizens with real concerns about protecting employers from job-killing chronic lawsuits, as well as shielding doctors from skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates.

While we've come a long way, we have a long way to go, as a fair legal system is an essential component to the cultivation of a favorable business climate.

Action Items

»  Early Dismissal of Frivolous Lawsuits: Currently Texas is one of eight states that does not allow a judge to dismiss a clearly frivolous suit before expensive discovery has been conducted. Federal courts also have this option. If the trial court dismisses a case solely on the pleadings, the court shall award attorneys fees to the defendant.

»  Offer of Settlement Reform: The bill will encourage the timely settlement of disputes and help prevent a party that has been offered a fair settlement from holding out for a “home run.” Current law provides that a party that turns down an offer of settlement can be made to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees if he continues the case all the way to trial and the jury verdict is 20% worse than the settlement offer, but caps the amount a plaintiff can pay at 50% of his actual damages. This bill provides that plaintiff can be made to return his entire damages award, thus creating a disincentive to hold out for an unreasonable settlement. 

»  Efficient Prosecution of Smaller Claims: The court system should be more accessible to Texans with legitimate claims without the larger costs associated with a drawn-out litigation process. Plaintiffs with claims between $10,000 and $100,000 should have the option of expedited trial settings with limited discovery in order to get their cases resolved quicker and less expensively. 

News & Announcements

  • Thursday, May 29, 2014 • Austin, Texas • Noteworthy
    Tort Reform Means More Doctors for Texans
    Texas faced a major turning point in 2003, one that could have seriously jeopardized the economic successes our state has enjoyed over the past decade. The skyrocketing cost of malpractice insurance - driven ever higher by the mounting costs of litigation and staggering awards in non-economic damages sought by unscrupulous lawyers - was driving many doctors out of business, or causing them to flee to less litigious places.
  • Monday, September 09, 2013 • Edinburg, Texas • Press Release
    Gov. Perry Commemorates 10th Anniversary of Historic Lawsuit Reform
    Gov. Rick Perry today was joined by the Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and members of the medical community to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the passage of landmark medical liability reform in Texas.
  • Thursday, November 08, 2012 • Austin, Texas • Speech
    Gov. Perry Highlights Importance of Fair Legal Climate in Texas
    Gov. Rick Perry spoke at a luncheon hosted by Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA), highlighting the importance of maintaining a fair legal system in Texas that protects against lawsuit abuse. These efforts help employers spend less time in court and more time creating jobs, making Texas a place where people of all industries can confidently invest their capital and be successful.
  • Monday, July 02, 2012 • Austin, Texas • Editorial
    Tort Reform Has Done The Job It Was Designed To Do
    In 2003, Texas was facing a very real crisis, one that we met with a very specific solution. The crisis involved a dramatic drop in the number of doctors practicing medicine in our state, as we fell all the way to 44th overall in a national ranking of physicians per capita. The prime culprit behind this crisis was skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates that reflected Texas' then-status as a lawsuit haven. To remedy this, we took the bold step of instituting tort reforms to limit lawsuit abuse and bring malpractice insurance rates down to a manageable level.
  • Wednesday, July 27, 2011 • Houston, Texas • Press Release
    Gov. Perry: Lawsuit Reforms Cut Down on Frivolous Claims, Expedite Justice for the Deserving
    HOUSTON – Gov. Rick Perry today ceremonially signed House Bill 274, which brings important lawsuit reforms to Texas courts, including implementing a loser pays component for frivolous lawsuits in the state. The governor designated this issue as an emergency item for this legislative session. Gov. Perry was joined by Rep. Brandon Creighton and Sen. Joan Huffman for the signing ceremony at the Greater Houston Partnership.