Texas Tames the Dogs of Tort
Rick Perry is a trial lawyer's worst nightmare. Tort reform in Texas has paid off in job growth ,and the lessons for the nation are too clear. Back in June, I predicted in a piece here at American Thinker that if Perry entered the presidential race, trial lawyers in America would mobilize and go after him as a frothing, mad dog pack. From an article at Politico, it would appear that is indeed the case.
Why is that, you say?
Well, for starters, Texas has been on the road to commonsense tort reform since the 1990's, trying to end the state's long reign as a favored trial lawyers' venue. Back then, Texas was ranked dead last by insurance companies because of its propensity for hugely unrealistic awards in civil suits. For far too many years, plaintiffs' lawyers from across America sought the most tenuous ties between their causes of action and friendly Texas courtrooms. In certain areas of Texas, juries comprised primarily of poor and uneducated minorities sometimes handed out enormous awards to undeserving plaintiffs for the most outrageous reasons. Cunning plaintiffs' lawyers all too frequently convinced honest but unsophisticated jurors that their verdict was the little guy's chance to stick it to The Man, meaning large corporations and those they perceived as The Rich, such as doctors and business owners. It was the same class warfare now being conducted everywhere by the Democrats, but then targeted on a specific region where the native populism and poverty made it too readily accepted.
Throughout his governorship, Rick Perry has continued to deny the law dogs their gravy train by enacting ever stronger tort reforms. But what is more important than a victory for social justice is that in bringing these fat dogs of tort to heel, Texas has become the proving ground for the long-voiced contention of the business community that tort reform brings positive economic benefits to society as a whole. Rather than a few trial lawyers being able to buy private jets and sumptuous villas in exotic climes, the economy of an entire state has been lifted. A study by The Perryman Group of Waco found:
The total impact of tort reforms implemented since 1995 includes gains of $112.5 billion in spending each year as well as almost 499,000 jobs in the state.
And so it happened. Corporate leaders seeking a low-tax, reasonably regulated and lawyer-limited business environment found it in Texas when that critical third aspect, tort reform, was added to the mix. Texas had long been waving low taxes and limited regulation under the noses of Fortune 500 corporations in New York, Chicago, California and elsewhere with good success. Tort reform became the icing on the corporate cake and simultaneously the hot butter on the cornbread of Texas economics. Suddenly the greedy packs of ambulance chasing tort hounds have had to find new ways of extorting the public. With their power much diminished, many have sought other areas of the law to pursue. With the reforms, that lucrative ratio between tort and extort has lost much of its golden allure.
All the above explains one aspect of why the economy of Texas is performing so much better in this recession than that of the rest of the country. That is why Texas is now home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other state. That is why doctors and medical manufacturing corporations are now flocking to Texas. And that, boys and girls, in a nutshell, is why trial lawyers hate and fear a Rick Perry presidency. Under his leadership, Texas has shown that tort reform not only stops the unjust enrichment of a few litigators, it also makes solid economic sense for the rest of us. I believe anyone so feared by lawyers (and remember how many in Congress are lawyers) just might be the right man to lead America.
Just as he has been for Texas...