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Texas tort reform update

The Texas tort reform initiative is unique because it seeks to accomplish reform through constitutional amendment; on some other occasions, plaintiff-friendly judges have struck down state tort-reform measures by claiming that they conflict with state constitutions. Early voting for tomorrow's election shows larger-than-normal turnout. (Kris Axtman, "Texas vote tests a new tactic to curb jury awards," Christian Science Monitor, Sep. 12). Lara Squires writes at length in support of Proposition 12 in the Fort Worth Business Press, noting a 400% increase in some insurance costs:

[Dr. John] Durand is an interventional cardiologist with Consultants in Cardiology of Fort Worth. He says that in a three-year period, his 12-physician group�s insurance premiums have gone from $125,000 a year to close to $700,000 a year, despite an impeccable claims history.

�We had been setting aside funds for our practice growth. We were going to build an outpatient congestive heart failure clinic, to meet the needs of a growing population facing this major health problem,� Durand said. �Instead, we had to cut back on services, freeze hiring of more medical staff and scrap plans for the outpatient center. It�s the first time in 35 years of our practice that we�ve identified a need in the community and haven�t been able to implement the solution.� (Sep. 10).

One unintended consequence of the ballot initiative: a backlog of over a thousand medical malpractice cases filed in Harris County in a three-month stretch in an effort to beat the deadline that would be imposed by the amendment. (AP, "Backlog of malpractice cases results from deadline," Sep. 11; previous Overlawyered discussion Sep. 6).

SEP. 14 UPDATE: The constitutional amendment passes, 51-49. (Kelly Shannon, "Texans Vote to Limit Lawsuit Awards", AP, Sep. 14; Janet Elliott, "Texans pass Prop. 12 in statewide election", Houston Chronicle, Sep. 14; amendment text). (via Bashman)

(Cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Sept. 12, 2003)

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.