May 12, 2011

The compromise version of HB 274 was brought up in emergency session on Saturday at the insistence of the Governor. CSHB 274 is a version of HB 274 that contains a revised loser pays provision, early dismissal of meritless actions, interlocutory appeals of controlling questions of laws, and expedited trials of cases involving less than $100,000. On Monday May 9, it was brought up again and amendments added. For example,  Representative Tryon Lewis’s bill relating to Responsible Third Parties was tacked on to CSHB 274. Under Lewis’s bill, plaintiffs cannot add RTPs as defendants after the time that the statute of limitations has expired.

The compromise bill will be heard in the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday morning, May 16th.

Of concern to many are the following provisions:

Article 2 of the bill requires the Supreme Court to adopt rules to expedite cases in which the "amount in controversy…does not exceed $100,000."

Article 4 of the bill allows a trial court in any civil action "on motion of a party or on its own initiative" to permit an "appeal from an order that is otherwise not appealable" if the order involves a "controlling question of law as to which there is a substantial ground for difference of opinion." The parties could agree to a stay pending appeal or the court could order it.

Sec.30.021 appears to give attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party on an R12b6 equivalent motion. It applies the "equitable and just" standard.

Click here to download the floor amendments which are also scheduled to be heard on Monday.

If you have concerns you should call the Austin offices of the Members of the Senate State Affairs Committee:

Senator Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) - 512-463-0127
Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) - 512-463-0113
Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) - 512-463-0126
Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) - 512-463-0102
Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) - 512-463-0124
Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) - 512-463-0117
Senator Mike Jackson (R-La Porte) - 512-463-0111
Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) - 512-463-0128
Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) - 512-463-0104

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