LONGVIEW – Despite progress made in turning around a
reputation that has pegged Texas as a popular venue for medical malpractice
lawsuits and “not a business friendly environment,” Ruben Martin, founder of East
Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse, said in a newsletter entry commemorating ETALA’s
25th anniversary that “junk lawsuits continue to cost us dearly.”
“Texas has recently been voted as one of the best states for
doctors to practice in,” Martin said in the newsletter. “And the state of Texas is now held as an
example of how you can turn around your legal system when citizens become
united against lawsuit abuse.”
However, Martin said employers are still spending “money
that was earmarked for jobs” on defending junk lawsuits. He said this trend is
hurting the state’s economy.
“Even the notorious ‘slip-and-fall’ lawsuits can shut down
the small business owner,” Martin wrote. “And, whether they choose to fight or
settle, it still costs – big time.”
Recent legal activity on the medical malpractice front
includes the Jan. 20 announcement that the Texas Supreme Court will consider an
appeal of a lawsuit that pits
representatives of a deceased woman against the Columbia Valley Healthcare
System, according to a Law360 article.
The plaintiffs allege that the patient’s nurses should have
voiced their opposition before the pregnant woman was transferred, at the
direction of her doctor, to another hospital from a Columbia Valley Healthcare
The woman died in the ambulance while being transferred.
The state’s high court agreed to hear the case after a lower
court denied the hospital’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Also, a May 2016 Texas Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit tied
to the removal by the medical examiner of a dead man’s heart established more
stringent standards on the filing of medical malpractice lawsuits in the state,
according to an article published by thinkprogress.org.
In this unusual case, the state’s highest court ruled that
the two-year statute of limitations placed on medical malpractice claims in
Texas, as well as the state’s law dictating the maximum amount of a damages
that can be recovered, apply regardless of whether the examinee is a patient or
In addition to medical malpractice cases, Martin said Forbes
Magazine reported that eastern Texas “is now the venue of choice” for patent
“It has given East Texas a black eye as well as a horrible
reputation as the venue of chose to receive high monetary awards, which do not
represent actual damages,” Martin wrote.
Martin added that so-called “hail storm” lawsuits have also
gained in popularity in Texas. He said some lawyers go into areas plagued by a
hail storm and encourage homeowners to file lawsuits. In some cases, Martin
said this type of litigation can drive up insurance premiums.
He called on Texas officials to “act now to curb hail storm
Martin said ETALA’s current efforts include a “Don’t Let
Your Lawyer be Your Doctor” campaign. The organization is also working to
address the hail storm litigation trend and “the well-known patent problem we
are having in East Texas.”