Lessons of Laminack

The SE Texas Record Apr. 10, 2009, 7:45am

The case took eight months and seven hearings before dismissal. Rick Laminack's accuser couldn't come up with any evidence.

Judge Tracy Christopher saw plaintiff Angela Robinson as nothing but a storyteller. And her salacious charges that ex-boss, a wealthy Houston asbestos attorney, was a fraudster and sexual harasser got pitched this week. Now Laminack, one of Texas' most prolific accusers, is reflecting upon what it felt like to be the accused.

"I have always had faith in the system and knew that the facts would speak for themselves," Laminack said in a press release. "While it is wonderful that our society allows anyone to readily file a lawsuit, our legal structure does have mechanisms built in to deal with frivolous lawsuits such as this. This has certainly been a long and painful process for all of us to go through."

Call it a self-serving takeaway in which Laminack made his point but missed the most obvious one. Not that we expected Rick Laminack to exit such an experience a changed man, crusading against the evils of baseless lawsuits that spew false accusations, dragging their targets through the mud until they agree to pay up.

The judge finally stepped in after seven hearings and at a considerable cost to the accused. Laminack could afford it; most of us aren't so well-heeled.

Or we don't have the stomach to stick around and fight, putting our business' future or hard-earned reputation in the hands of a court. Truth be told, many civil defendants doubt the justice system will give them a fair shake.

The result of this case won't change that notion. Far from "mechanisms built in to deal with frivolous lawsuits," this case actually proves how easy it is for someone to use state power of the courts to harass an enemy.

Consider that Ms. Robinson, once a paralegal to Laminack, made incredible, headline-grabbing claims months ago and then failed to produce evidence to support the charges. That's despite the fact the judge gave her most of a year to do so.

She'll walk away without repercussions, like nothing ever happened.

That's not justice. If this case were really baseless, Judge Christopher could have ferreted that out after a hearing or two -- not seven. And Robinson needs to face consequences for her frivolous actions, such as reimbursing the court cost to taxpayers.

Texas will never stop lawsuit abuse until judges start punishing abusers.

But we don't have to tell Rick Laminack that. He understands the issue from both sides of the aisle.

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