During a recent visit to Midland, Dick Weekley attempted to rewrite history. According to an article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, he claimed that Texas businesses were in a “lawsuit crisis” when he and a group of corporate CEOs founded the self-styled “Texans for Lawsuit Reform” in the mid-90s.
That’s strong rhetoric, but it just isn’t true. There simply wasn’t a crisis. Here are the facts.
Forbes reported in 1994 that Texas experienced a phenomenal 311% increase in Fortune 500 relocations over the previous 25 years. Plus, Texas led the nation in the number of new jobs created in the year ending in July 1994.
Mr. Weekley’s assertion that our state was seeing “out of control lawsuits” is similarly false. The National Center for State Courts reported that tort legal filings in Texas grew less rapidly than the national average in the late 80s and early 90s. And, jury verdicts in Texas were below the national average in every year between 1989 and 1993.
So, what has happened since Mr. Weekley and his CEO cohorts created the largest PAC in Texas history to threaten and cajole lawmakers into adopting their anti-accountability platform for corporate and insurance industry interests?
As more and more families and small businesses find themselves unable to access the courts because of legal loopholes and immunity schemes enacted into law at the behest of Weekley’s CEO PAC, Texas courts are becoming the exclusive domain of business litigation.
With the value of death and injury in some cases set (at the behest of “TLR” and their corporate/insurance allies) arbitrarily by politicians rather than judges and juries, families with claims for abuse of nursing home residents, retirees, stay-at-home spouses and children often find themselves unable to access the legal system.
This means that people and corporations that cause needless injury and financial devastation are allowed to escape accountability.
So, Mr. Weekley and his cronies in the CEO set may be faring better because our state has shielded them from accountability, but the rest of us aren’t.