It seems the Texas Supreme Court is making a habit out of protecting business interests. This leaves a plaintiff holding the bag.
The blatantly evident lean to protect business interests in Texas by the Supreme Court is quite disturbing, as the decisions are coming at the expense of consumers. How would you like to be on the receiving end of a judgment like that? Chances are you would not and would also wonder what the point would be in taking a business dispute to the court for consideration.
The reluctance to take cases dealing with business issues is becoming more evident in Texas each passing year, and there are no signs of things getting any better given the current makeup of the court. Yes, politics does play a part in the composition of the court and at times, voting alliances based on party lines raises its ugly head. One would hope for impartial hearings, not voting alliances based on personal and political preferences.
Some of the interesting statistics garnered in a close study of the decisions of the Texas Supreme Court indicate some depressing trends. For instance, consumers (plaintiffs) were only able to prevail in roughly 27 percent of the cases when they were trying to battle a government or corporate entity. That’s a very low number of wins for the little guy. What’s more troubling, however, is that in cases where a jury reached a verdict for the plaintiff, the Texas Supreme Court reversed the decision in just about 72 percent of the cases. It makes one wonder what happened to justice for the smaller companies; the entrepreneurs of the world going up against their dog-eat-dog competitors – big business.
One other thing that stands out is the fact that the average rate of agreement with the majority decision tends to run at about 87 percent. While that might sound nice on the surface that the justices agree, it means there isn’t a lot of judicial debate or disagreement. In other words, they all follow one or two leaders and don’t seem to put much thought into offering a differing point of view. This is best referred to as lackluster adjudication and not something you’d want to deal with if it was your case going to court.
Along with the dogged determination to protect big business is another developing trend; that of protecting government entities from being accountable. There is a radically dramatic increase in governmental immunity protections for local and state governments that actually puts citizens at a high risk of harm, both for their lives and their livelihoods.
For example, in a variety of cases ranging from unsafe road conditions to whistleblowers ratting out corporate fraud, the court is letting these government entities hide behind sovereign immunity. What this means is that it lets these defendants off the hook so that they don’t have to take the responsibility for causing individual citizens harm.
Things aren’t all bad on the court, as this year, there have been some encouraging signs from the bench that included some very significant rulings in favor of consumers. Perhaps the tide is turning for the better and even more transparency is just around the corner. We can only hope.
Robert W. Lee is an Austin personal injury lawyer for Lee, Gober & Reyna. If you need an Austin TX personal injury lawyer, contact an Austin personal injury attorney from Lee, Gober & Reyna.