Legal watchdog group launches new web page, voter education program

Marilyn Tennissen Oct. 5, 2010, 6:45am

Texas legal watchdog groups have launched a new voter education web page and are urging voters to find out where candidates stand on lawsuit reform.

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse chapters around the state launched the campaign on Monday as part of Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week, Oct. 4-8.

CALA leaders say it is critical to protect the lawsuit reforms that have brought common sense and balance to the civil justice system in a state once known as a lawsuit abuse haven.

"We know legal reform works," said Jon Buquet with Bay Area CALA in Corpus Christi in a press release. "What is important now is to know if our elected officials and candidates will work for reform. Voters deserve to know that answer so they can cast an informed ballot on Election Day."

The voter education project will include radio commercials, speeches, media interviews, group meetings and direct outreach to help citizens determine where the candidates stand on lawsuit reform and whether they are willing to protect the progress made in curbing lawsuit abuse in Texas.

In addition, a new and dedicated CALA "Reform Works" web page ( has been launched as part of the project.

The web page features an "Ask Your Candidate" section that includes a list of 2010 candidates for state office, sample questions for voters to use in asking where candidates stand on legal reform issues.

The questions include, "If you have accepted their political donations, how can I as a voter be assured you will not bend to the wishes of personal injury lawyers when they ask for your support in overturning lawsuit reforms or in passing legislation that creates new ways to sue?" and "Will you support a new transparency law in Texas that would require any proposed legislation to clearly state that it creates a new way to sue?"

Printed "Ask Your Candidate" palm cards are also being distributed so voters can keep the questions in mind when meeting with candidates.

"Our 'Reform Works' web page arms voters with the information they need to ask their local candidates and officeholders to take a strong stand on lawsuit reform issues," said Stephanie Gibson, executive director of CALA of Central Texas. "During the 2009 legislative session, personal injury lawyers pushed no less than 900 measures that would have created new ways to sue or undermined current laws designed to curb lawsuit abuse. We're depending on our lawmakers to fend off similar efforts to pave new paths to lawsuit abuse."

The web page also highlights videos of small business owners and doctors talking about how lawsuit reforms have benefited the Texas jobs climate and significantly improved access to potentially lifesaving medical care by bringing more doctors to the state – reasons why reforms are worth protecting.

Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week arrives on the heels of a recent statewide voter survey, released by Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse last week, which showed a majority of Texas voters from across the political spectrum believe that legal reforms have helped increase access to health care, injected fairness in our courts, and helped attract employers and jobs to Texas.

Seventy-eight percent of Texas voters believe the Legislature should protect reforms designed to reduce abusive lawsuits, the survey found.

"Any concentrated efforts to push a pro-lawsuit, anti-reform and anti-jobs agenda are out of step with Texas voters," said Michelle Martin, executive director of CALA-Houston.

Diane Davis, executive director of East Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse, concluded, "Texans understand that common-sense legal reforms to reduce lawsuit abuse in Texas have strengthened our economy, created jobs and improved access to health care. But reform only works if our lawmakers and leaders are willing to protect it. That's why it is paramount to find out before Election Day where your candidates stands on such a crucial issue."

CALA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots, public education organization dedicated to serving as a watchdog over the legal system and those who would seek to abuse it for undeserved gain.

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