Judicial Hellholes report puts Dallas Court of Appeals on watch list
DALLAS – The American Tort Reform Foundation released its annual Judicial Hellholes report today, placing the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas on its watch list.
The report also listed the Texas Supreme Court as a point of light.
According to the report, the Fifth Court disregarded Texas’ long-standing prohibition on introducing evidence about different products or dissimilar accidents in product liability cases when it upheld a massive verdict in a case centered around a 2016 car accident.
“A Texas jury awarded $242.1 million dollars to a couple who blamed an automaker for their children’s injuries after another driver rear-ended their car at 50 miles per hour while stopped in traffic on a highway,” the report states. “The plaintiffs claimed that Toyota was liable for an alleged design defect and failure to warn that the seat back and restraint system could collapse backward in a rear-end collision. The jury found Toyota and its non-manufacturing seller 95% liable, and the driver who crashed into their completely stopped car only 5% liable for the plaintiffs’ injuries.
“It did so despite the fact the product exceeded federal safety standards, there was no evidence of a safer alternative design, and the court had refused to allow Toyota to present its own expert rebuttal testimony. Additionally, the jury found Toyota failed to warn of the risk of the seats collapsing in an accident even though the plaintiffs never read the owner’s manual and would not have seen any warning.”
The report also listed the Texas Supreme Court as a point of light for preventing “phantom damages.”
“Phantom damages” exist any time lawsuit recoveries are calculated using the dollar amount a patient was billed for a medical service instead of the amount the patient, their insurer, Medicare, Medicaid, or workers’ compensation actually paid for treatment, according to the report.