Long-time legal reform champion expresses support for 'loser pays' proposal

The SE Texas Record Mar. 14, 2011, 11:24am

By Chip Hough

I got involved with Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse 15 years ago because lawsuit abuse not only affects my business, but it also impacts my 500 employees and their families in San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse movement began here in Texas more than 20 years ago. After lawsuit abuse weakened our local economies, undermined our state's business climate and made it harder for employers like me to create new jobs, citizens and business owners said, "enough is enough."

Now more than 25,000 supporters strong in Texas, CALAs work to shine a spotlight on people who abuse our courts and empower Texans to be smart legal consumers.

I want to talk about ways to keep junk lawsuits from burdening our courts. I could talk for an hour about the effect of junk lawsuits on my business and employees.

Too often, lawyers cast a wide net and target many companies with a lawsuit � including some companies that should never be part of the lawsuit in the first place.

Basic Industries has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting these types of cases and we have been released from all of them. We've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawsuits that should never have happened.

It makes me cringe to think of the wasted dollars and man-hours spent researching, preparing and fighting lawsuits like this. I think of the ways my company could have used that money on salaries, benefits or employee training.

I think loser pays and other legal reforms will help keep junk lawsuits out of our courts and improve access to the courts for those with legitimate claims. It puts the onus on lawyers to file smarter cases.

These reforms aren't saying, 'let's eliminate lawsuits altogether.' Instead, we're challenging everyone to do their homework and due diligence on the front end. Bring lawsuits to court that make sense.

I thank Gov. Rick Perry for his strong support of legal reforms in Texas. Gov. Perry has been a champion for a civil justice system based on common-sense and fairness and we look forward to working with him in the legislative session. And a thank you, Rep. Creighton and Sen. Joan Huffman for sponsoring these important measures.

Chip Hough is the owner of Basic Industries, an industrial and commercial maintenance and construction company and board member of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas.

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