The Texas Supreme Court has been called a lot of things. Pro-business, certainly. Anti-consumer. Certainly anti-worker, particularly in light of its highly controversial decision Entergy vs. Summers. (See our earlier coverage here.) That decision “allows plant owners to obtain immunity from injured workers' suits for damages by providing workers' compensation insurance coverage for subcontractors' employees working on their premises.”
Or in the words of Becky Moeller, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, with this decision, “The Texas Supreme Court has gouged a giant hole in the legal protections for Texas workers by giving large-business owners a technical loophole to escape the consequences of their own wrongdoing.” And its not like the law required that they do this. As State Senator Kirk Watson said, “The Court reached a result that the Legislature has rejected over and over again.”
So you know that striking down so-called “tort reforms” isn’t normally on this court's “to do” list. More likely its on the “not to do” list -- except apparently, sometimes the greed of these lobby groups has been so extreme that even the Texas Supreme Court can’t stomach it.
With a headline reading “Justices reject tort reform provision,” the Houston Chronicle reported over the weekend that a small part of the brutal 2003 Texas “tort reform” law was struck down by the Texas Supreme Court because its retroactivity provision was “designed to protect one company from a lawsuit brought by a man dying of asbestos exposure,” specifically Crown Cork & Seal Inc. of Pennsylvania.
Apparently, this company has “pushed similar legislation to limit asbestos lawsuits in other states through the national American Legislative Exchange Council” and that “Crown had obtained similar retroactive laws in 10 other states. Pennsylvania courts already have ruled the law unconstitutional there.”
"It shouldn't surprise anybody that a part of [Texas “tort reform"] House Bill 4 is unconstitutional," said George "Tex" Quesada, an attorney at Sommerman & Quesada in Dallas who represents plaintiffs in a variety of cases. "It's taken the court far too long to get started on this."
In The Republic, Plato (pictured above) called avarice “a disgrace.” Maybe for some, it takes 2300 years to sink in. But we'll take it where we can get it!