May 31, 2011
*Update* Procedure Reforms in Texas -- Losing Plaintiffs Now Pay Costs/fees
Governor Rick Perry has signed a new tort reform law into effect in Texas. The Houston Chronicle reports that the law will shift court and attorney costs to losing plaintiffs and give judges "expanded powers" to dismiss "frivolous lawsuits." The accounts I have read all report that it is losing plaintiffs (not losing parties) who must pay costs. Anyone with more insight into this issue is welcome to contact me!
My bleg has worked! Our very own Texan, Beth Thornburg writes:
The law, Download HB00274Final, actually requires the Texas Supreme Court to make rules for a new motion to dismiss (apparently on the pleadings – “dismissal of causes of action that have no basis on law or fact on motion and without evidence”), and to provide for a cost shift to the “prevailing party” when the motion is granted or denied. So it looks to me like under the language of the bill, a defendant who unsuccessfully moved to dismiss could be ordered to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees.
The bill also changes a bit (and somewhat inscrutably) the offer of judgment rule.
And it requires the Court to make rules for cheaper and faster disposition of cases where the amount in controversy is less than $100,000.
The full drafting history is available at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB274