Eye on Texas Blog

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…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Commentary: Abbott’s Settlement

As a young man, a falling tree struck Greg Abbott while he was jogging, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Until recently, Mr. Abbott, longtime Texas Attorney General turned gubernatorial candidate, hasn’t discussed the terms of a 1986 legal settlement he reached with the homeowner and a tree care company, which appears to have fairly and justly compensated Abbott for his economic losses, as well as his reduced quality of life.

But, on the political stage, Abbott has been a vocal supporter of legal restrictions that arbitrarily limit the right of Texans who are needlessly injured to seek the same type of fair compensation that Abbott received.

In an effort to justify this disconnect between his own experience and his political rhetoric, Abbott argues that someone who finds themselves in the same situation as he would be able to reach the same type of settlement he received. In fact, he recently said: “If there were someone jogging today, got hit by a tree today, suffered the same kind of accident today, they would have access to the very same remedies I had access to.”

This is a dangerously myopic view that ignores the reality that Abbott’s settlement was negotiated under the umbrella of a civil justice system far different than exists today. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Ten Years Later: How House Bill 4 Has Harmed Texans

Riding an electoral wave that saw the election of Rick Perry to his first full term as governor,[1] a large class of impressionable freshman members in the House, and a hard-line speaker, Tom Craddick, the corporate immunity lobby tilled fertile ground during the 78th Legislature in 2003.[2]  Emboldened after pushing through lawsuit restrictions in 1995[3] and 1997,[4] this lobby and their functionaries in the Legislature rammed through HB 4 in 2003,[5] an omnibus package of restrictions that were sweeping in scope and unprecedented in their destructive effect on the rights and lives of everyday Texans.

Ten years later, patients continue to struggle with high cost, low access health care, corporate wrongdoers are allowed to divert and evade responsibility for their actions, and our most vulnerable are acutely impacted by the negative affect of limits on individual legal rights.

Totaling 133 pages in length, HB 4 was a sprawling piece of legislation that upended and undercut myriad aspects of the Texas civil justice system.[6] (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Close the Six Flags Loophole

In 1998, 15-year old Leslie Lane went to the Travis County Fair to ride the midway. Tragically, the safety mechanism on the her ride failed, catapulting Leslie, along with her brother and best friend, out of the carnival ride. The three children struck a retaining wall. While the other children were not seriously injured, Leslie died as a result of a massive head trauma.

The following year, lawmakers enacted daily safety inspection requirements for the safety harnesses on mobile amusement rides like the one Leslie was on. And, they gave law enforcement the authority to shut down unsafe mobile amusement rides.

But the law has loopholes big enough to drive a roller coaster through. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Governor Signs Policyholder Transparency Agenda

Gov. Rick Perry gave his approval to legislation designed to improve transparency for Texas home and auto insurance customers. The bills will improve the market by giving consumers more information about their insurance policy.

While much more needs to be done to restore fairness to the Texas insurance marketplace and ensure that rates are fair, coverage is adequate, and claims are paid in full and on time, these bills represent a step in the right direction toward giving policyholders the tools they need to make informed choices. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Rathgeber Appointed Insurance Commissioner

Governor Rick Perry has appointed Julia Rathgeber, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s Deputy Chief of Staff, as Texas Insurance Commissioner. Her appointment comes after Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman was not confirmed by the Texas Senate for a full term.

The Texas insurance market faces important challenges. With higher premiums, larger deductibles, and expanded exclusions, Texas policyholders are paying more and getting less. Policyholders deserve an insurance commissioner who will fight for them everyday by fostering a balanced insurance market in which prices are fair, coverage is adequate, and claims are paid in full and on time.

We are hopeful that Commissioner Rathgeber will work to restore balance to the market. And, we look forward to working with her to put Texas policyholders first. (more…)

Eye on Texas Blog

Kitzman Not Confirmed, Leaves TDI

After public concern over Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman’s anti-policyholder decisions during her tumultuous 21-month tenure, the Texas Senate has chosen to not confirm Commissioner Kitzman for a full term, according to numerous media reports.

Senator Glenn Hegar, Chair of the Nominations Committee, said, “Gauging the votes in the last couple of days, it does not appear that there is a majority on my committee or on the Senate floor for that confirmation.”

As a result, Kitzman left office at the end of the recently concluded legislative session, reportedly confirming to her staff that Monday was her last day. (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 »