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Tort Reform: Rick Perry's Latest "Emergency"

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The AP is reporting that Governor Rick Perry has declared yet another rightwing hobbyhorse to be emergency legislation: a tort reform bill.

Republicans reflexively shout "tort reform!" at the drop of a hat, even though Texas -- via the big corporate dollars that fund campaigns -- long ago wiped out any vestiges of the state's semi-freewheeling plaintiffs-suit past.

According to the new bill, if you want to sue someone -- a corporation that put out a shitty product that maimed you, a doctor who left a scalpel in you -- you face the risk of having to fork over the defendant's attorney's fees and costs if the jury doesn't side with you.

That's a daunting consideration to take into account before suing, which means less suits against businesses.

The bill does require a defendant to make a settlement offer before the verdict in order to qualify for the costs, but that's not much of a sop.

Just to get some flavor of who supports this, witnesses who testified or registered to testify at hearings included representatives from these groups:

-- Texans for Lawsuit Reform -- National Federation of Independent Business -- General Electric -- Texas Conservative Coalition -- Koch Companies -- Chevron --Texas Apartment Association -- Associated Builders & Contractors of Texas

We should obviously believe such a sterling group knows all about "frivolous lawsuits," which they no doubt define as anything filed against them.

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