Eye on Texas Blog

Eye on Texas Blog

The Power of Civil Accountability

The recall of 2.6 million GM cars has been dominating the headlines lately. We’ve learned about the 13 lives taken as a result of GM’s faulty ignition switch. We’ve learned how GM knew about the problem over a decade ago, but chose to keep quiet. We’ve learned how federal regulators tasked with ensuring the public’s safety ignored reports from drivers on this very issue. We’ve learned that a 90-cent fix could have saved lives. And, we’ve learned how GM decided years ago that 90-cents was just too expensive for the company to issue a voluntary recall.

How have we learned all of this? Because Brooke Melton’s parents filed a lawsuit. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Abbott Defends the Indefensible

Attorney General Greg Abbott opted to formally intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Texas medical liability statute this week. The statute in question severely and arbitrarily restricts the ability of patients to access the civil legal system when they believe their medical care was negligent.

Texas Watch Executive Director Alex Winslow issued the following statement. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Cart Before the Horse

In order to raise funds for the beleaguered Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, regulators at TDI are considering rules to impose a surcharge on property insurance policies sold along the Texas coast. This means higher insurance costs for homeowners and drivers in an area of the state hit hard by sky-high insurance costs (not to mention the severe restrictions on policyholder legal rights if/when the next storm hits).

Instead of putting more of the burden on policyholders, TDI should force private insurance companies to hold up their end of the bargain. Back when Hurricane Ike hit, the law said that insurance companies should bear the burden of the storm’s insured losses. Instead, they’ve been let off the hook while policyholders have been picking up the tab.

The folks at TDI are getting the cart before the horse. In our comments to the agency, we say that before even considering another hike in the cost of insurance, private insurance companies should be forced to fulfill their obligations. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Special Interest PAC Can’t Handle the Truth

Access to the civil justice system is a fundamental right. It is embedded in our constitution because no one is above the law and everyone should be held to account for their actions.

But, the folks over at the self-styled Texans for Lawsuit Reform’s PAC of CEOs and lobbyists just can’t seem to understand that.

In an effort to reinforce their failing agenda and scare candidates away from supporting meaningful accountability reforms that help Texas families and small businesses, TLR has released the “results” of a new push-poll that conveniently ignores the impact of their agenda on everyday Texans. Instead they attack lawyers … again.

Why?

Because they have no other option. The fact is that the vast majority of Texans believe they should have access to our courts when they are harmed. And, they want to be able to hire an attorney to represent their interests. Particularly when an insurance company treats them unfairly. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

UPDATED: Feds to Consider Banning Forced Arbitration During Dallas Hearing

IMG_1456UPDATE: Texas Watch testified before federal regulators about the dangers forced arbitration poses to consumers. Our Director of Legislative Affairs Ware Wendell told Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), that forced arbitration “is flawed in many respects. It precludes class actions, is largely unappealable, has limited discovery, is subject to repeat player bias, is more costly for consumers, and is conducted in secret.”

He added: “We already have a dispute resolution system that we have all paid for. It is open and accountable, with well-established rules of procedure and evidence. The law must be applied strictly. And when errors are made, they can be corrected. It is called our court system.” Check out his full written testimony.

The CFPB has been studying forced arbitration and its impact on consumers and businesses. The agency released its preliminary findings during the Dallas field hearing. The next step is for the CFPB to complete its study and develop rules regarding its use. Make sure your voice is heard by taking action now. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

TDI Should Back Safer Roads, Industrial Accountability & Better Insurance Options

Earlier this year, the previous Insurance Commissioner was forced to vacate her position when the Texas Senate chose not to confirm her appointment in part because of her unwillingness to consider the needs of policyholders. Times have changed.

New Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber has asked for our input on policy recommendations she should include in the agency’s biennial report to lawmakers. We are happy to giver her our 2 cents. So, we told her Texans deserve common sense reforms that will make our roads safer, guarantee that industrial plant operators are accountable to the community, and beef up coverage and competition in the home insurance market. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

TLR Is Still Trying to Justify Themselves 10 Years Later

With an apparently straight face, the self-styled Texans for Lawsuit Reform’s CEO Dick Weekley claims in a recent opinion piece published by the Washington Examiner that Texans are better off when corporate interests are free to cause needless financial, physical, and emotional harm without fear of accountability.

How can it be that eliminating accountability for polluters, careless nursing homes, insurance companies, Wall Street bankers, and big drug makers is good for the public? The answer is that it can’t be. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog, Press Releases

Hecht Appointed Chief Justice

Gov. Rick Perry announced today that he is appointing Nathan Hecht to serve as the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

Nathan Hecht’s appointment to the top judicial post in Texas is a blow to the notion of fairness and balance on our state’s highest court.

Nathan Hecht is the godfather of the pro-defendant judicial movement in Texas. He has led the charge in using the courts to decimate accountability for insurance companies and other corporate defendants who needlessly harm everyday Texans. Far from showing the type of judicial restraint the public expects of the Chief Justice, Hecht is unapologetically pro-defendant and has been activist in his desire to protect insurance companies and other corporate defendants. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog, Press Releases

Perry Ignores Facts About Impact of Medical Liability Restrictions

Gov. Rick Perry is holding a press conference in Edinburg today touting what his press office calls the “landmark medical malpractice legal reforms” passed a decade ago. The governor is likely to ignore key facts about the failure of these so-called “reforms” to improve the overall health or safety of Texas patients.

Politicians like Rick Perry have traded meaningful, public accountability for immunity, leaving untold numbers of Texas families to bear the financial, physical, and emotional costs of needless medical harm.

The governor and his insurance lobbyist buddies want Texans to believe that taking away the legal rights of patients has been good medicine for our state. But, the facts don’t lie. Texas ranks dead last in the quality of health care, our health care costs are soaring at a rate faster than the national average, we rank near the bottom in the number of doctors who actually see patients, and we have the highest rate of people without health insurance. (more…)

Research & Reports
Research & Reports

The Texas Watch Foundation, a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization, conducts research and public education activities on consumer law, consumer protection and civil justice issues. Read More »

Court Watch
Court Watch

Court Watch, a program of the Foundation, documents the role and impact of the Texas civil court system on Texas families and Texas public policy. Read More »