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.
"We started this legislative session with a simple goal - to balance our budget while strengthening the jobs-friendly climate we've fostered over the last decade that has allowed us to set the national pace for job creation," Gov. Perry said. "In recent years, we've taken major steps to reform our legal system, and thanks to the leadership of Rep. Creighton, Sen. Huffman and others, Texas passed HB 274 this session, which provides defendants and judges with a variety of tools that will cut down on frivolous claims and expedite justice for the deserving."
HB 274 implements several measures to streamline and lower the cost of litigation in Texas courts, allowing parties to resolve disputes more quickly, more fairly and less expensively. This includes:
* Allowing a trial court to dismiss a frivolous lawsuit immediately if there is no basis in law or fact for the lawsuit;
* Allowing a trial judge to send a question of law directly to the appellate court without requiring all parties to agree if a ruling by a court of appeals could decide the case;
* Allowing plaintiffs seeking less than $100,000 to request an expedited civil action; and
* Encouraging the timely settlement of disputes and helping prevent a party from extending litigation by seeking a "home run" if they have already been offered a fair settlement.
"House Bill 274 signifies a major landmark for tort reform in Texas," Rep. Creighton said. "I am pleased with the outcome and am positive that this bill will make litigation in Texas fair, expedient, and affordable - helping to create jobs, make plaintiffs whole and protect defendants from meritless cases."
Strengthening Texas' job creation environment remains a top priority for Gov. Perry. Keeping Texas employers in the workplace and out of the courtroom fighting frivolous lawsuits is a key part of maintaining the state's economic competitiveness. The lawsuit reforms passed this session build on tort reform measures championed by the governor in 2003 and 2005 to strengthen Texas' legal system.
"Texas remains a national leader of tort reform with the signing of HB 274. The legislation curtails the frivolous lawsuits that can harm individuals and small businesses and fosters a more efficient and accessible court system for all parties," Sen. Huffman said. "I was pleased to sponsor the bill in the Senate and thank my colleagues for supporting these important improvements to our legal climate."
Texas' economy continues to receive national and international recognition. Under Gov. Perry's leadership, Texas has been the nation's job creation capital, creating approximately half of America's net jobs in the past two years alone, and more private sector jobs in the last 10 years than any other state. Additionally, according to a USA Today examination of data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Texas moved past New York over the past decade to become the nation's second-largest economy. Texas' unemployment rate has also remained well below the national average, and in June, Texas added 32,000 jobs, more than any other state.