In a surprise move, the Texas House today voted to repeal a 2003 law governing designation of responsible third parties and allowing claimants to join them outside the statute of limitations. Although H.B. 1427 has sat unscheduled in the House Calendars Committee since May 2, bill author Rep. Tryon Lewis, R-Odessa, offered it as an amendment to H.B. 274, an omnibus civil justice reform bill known as the “loser-pays bill.” Lewis’ amendment repeals §33.004 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. That statute allows a plaintiff to join a responsible third party in a suit even if the statute of limitations has expired. Currently, the statute reads, “If a person is designated under this section as a responsible third party, a claimant is not barred by limitations from seeking to join that person, even though such a joinder would otherwise be barred by limitations.” Lewis told lawmakers today that Texas has followed statute-of-limitations laws since the 1870s, but the 2003 “exception” goes against that precedent. “All this does is leave the law how it’s been for 100 years,” Lewis says. Lawmakers approved Lewis’ amendment to H.B. 274 with a vote of 100-45. The loser pays bill then went on to pass 96-49, and it will now make its way to the Senate.
-- Angela Morris