All that’s needed now for the loser-pays bill to become law are three signatures. Once House Bill 274 is signed by House Speaker Joe Straus, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry, its provisions will be law and become effective Sept. 1. Tonight around 8:10 p.m., the Texas House voted 130-13 to accept a motion to concur by H.B. 274 author Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe. If Creighton had instead moved to reject the Senate’s changes, a conference committee of House and Senate members would have met to iron out the differences in the two chambers’ bills. The bill would allow courts to dismiss meritless suits before hearing evidence on the claims, and would award attorneys' fees to prevailing parties of those dismissed suits. It would also award attorney’s fees in some cases after a plaintiff rejected a defendant’s settlement offer. It contains other provisions calling for new rules to expedite some suits through the justice system, expanding types of judicial orders subject to interlocutory appeals, and changing the law on naming and joining third-party defendants to suits after expiration of the statute of limitations. Read details about the provisions here.
-- Angela Morris