The Texas Senate has scheduled a public hearing on Monday for the loser-pays bill that passed the House early this week. The hearing in the Senate’s State Affairs Committee would be the last time the public can voice support or opposition for House Bill 274, which includes provisions for loser pays and dismissal of meritless claims. In two past public hearings in a House committee, Texans for Lawsuit Reform testified in support of H.B. 274, while the Texas Trial Lawyers Association opposed the bill. TLR spokeswoman Sherry Sylvester writes in an e-mailed statement that a TLR representative will testify again on Monday. “We think there is support for the bill in the Committee and in the Senate. There is popular support for this legislation, as evidenced by the overwhelming vote in favor of the bill in the House,” Sylvester writes. The bill passed the House 96-49 on May 9. Brad Parker, vice president of legislative affairs for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, says he will also testify on H.B. 274, because TTLA is “opposed to the bill from top to bottom.” Parker says he thinks Texas doesn’t have a problem with excessive “frivolous” suits that would require the provision in H.B. 274 that calls for the dismissal of meritless suits that lack evidence or remedy in the law. Parker says he thinks the bill’s loser-pays provision would scare small businesses away from filing suits. “Why are we doing loser pays? Why are we having this? This doesn’t make any sense. It puts a price tag on getting into the courthouse,” Parker says. The hearing takes place in the Senate Chambers at 9 a.m. on May 16 and will be broadcast live.
-- Angela Morris