Los Angeles Times Examines Revisions to Texas Medical Malpractice Laws Supported by President Bush
In light of President Bush's campaign promise this year to make tort reform a component of his second-term agenda, the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday looked at changes in malpractice laws in Texas since Bush took office as governor there in 1995. On his first day as governor, Bush said that stopping "the frivolous and junk lawsuits which clog our courts" was an "emergency issue." During his term, he secured limits on malpractice awards, such as a cap on punitive damages equal to two times the amount of a victim's loss.
The changes in malpractice laws he spearheaded there have "gone far beyond questions of monetary awards," limiting even the right to sue in some cases, the Times reports. "Bush oversaw a significant retreat for consumer protection," Richard Alderman, a University of Houston law professor, said, adding, "Texas has gone form one of the most friendly states for consumer protection to one of the most anti-consumer states." However, supporters say Bush's legacy as governor was "reigning in a civil justice system that was out of control," the Times reports.
The Times profiles the effect that the changes in Texas laws have had on the construction industry. During Bush's presidency, he has "pushed only two relatively modest changes so far" -- limiting noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and requiring class-action lawsuits to be heard in federal courts; both proposals have been stalled by Democrats in the Senate, the Times reports (Savage, Los Angeles Times, 9/22).