Jun 4, 2011

Texas: Loser Pays

Two women get into a fight in the ladies' restroom at a restaurant. Afterward, they sue the restaurant owner, claiming someone should have been in there to break up the fight. It costs the small-business owner $2,000 to pay each plaintiff to drop the complaint, which was cheaper than fighting the lawsuit would have been. This completely ridiculous story is true, and the restaurant owner was one of us, Mr. Norris.

Fortunately, the lawsuit didn't cripple the family restaurant, Woody's Wharf in Newport Beach, Calif. But nationwide, groundless lawsuits strain businesses' bottom lines and threaten their very survival. This week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law that will help free Lone Star State businesses from the threat of frivolous lawsuits by enacting "loser-pays" tort reform.

Prior to the legislation, litigants faced a no-lose situation, while defendants stood to lose everything—even for the most outrageous, bizarre and wrongful accusations. Even when defendants won, the legal fees associated with protecting themselves could add up to tens of thousands of dollars. As a result, many pre-emptively settled out of court, as the settlement payment would be less than the legal fees.

Wow, I've been suggesting this as a solution for years and years! If it works out - and there is job protection and spur development - can we please do this everywhere?

The picture is only partially not related.

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