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Abbott calls for tort reform to curb 'abusive' hailstorm-related lawsuits

TX Business Daily, January 31, 2017

By: Tx Business Daily Reports

Over the past several months, Texas Business Dailyhas highlighted the impact on Texas businesses of lawsuits related to hailstorms, and in his State of the State speech given earlier today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott specifically called for legal reforms to curb "abusive" hailstorm lawsuits.

"One reason Texas attracts so many jobs is because of the strides we’ve made on tort reform. But our work is not done," said the governor. "Hail-storm litigation is the newest form of lawsuit abuse.To reduce the economic havoc, I want legislation on my desk that limits abusive hail-storm litigation."

Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) hailed the governor's statements.

“Hail-related litigation is the worst lawsuit abuse in Texas today, and if left unchecked it will hurt every Texas homeowner through increased property insurance premiums and deductibles, or reduced or lost coverage," said TLR President Richard J. Trabulsi Jr. "We look forward to working with Gov. Abbott and the Legislature to pass a balanced solution that protects Texas homeowners from bad actors – whether that is an insurance company that acts unfairly or an unscrupulous lawyer.”

Earlier this month, one high profile law firm suffered a setback over its attempt to secure a huge hailstorm-related settlement for one of its clients.

State Farm Lloyds successfully defended itself against a $1 million claim taken by a homeowner demanding extra-contractual damages. A jury decided against the plaintiff, who was represented by Mostyn Law, a firm headed by Steve Mostyn. This ruling followed an earlier  rebuke of the same firm by U.S. District Court Judge Micaela Alvarez in a separate case.

“Texas is a beacon for economic growth because our leadership prioritizes sound principles – including common-sense tort reform – as the bedrock of our economy," added Trabulsi. "As a former attorney and jurist, Gov. Abbott is uniquely aware that the 'tort tax' created by unnecessary litigation is a burden on hardworking Texas families and job creators alike. We are pleased that he continues to fight against new and evolving abuses of our courts."

State Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) introduced legislation in 2015 that included limiting payouts and other measures related to hailstorm litigation. That legislation failed, but legislation to curb hailstorm lawsuit-related abuse is expected to be introduced this session.