Governor Rick Perry signed the Texas Citizen Participation Act (HB 2973) giving protection to parties targeted by Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or “SLAPP” suits – suits intended to censor, intimidate and silence citizens who exercise their First Amendment rights by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. The plaintiff’s goal is not necessarily to win the lawsuit, but to bully or harass citizens who petition the government, write an article, create a website or comment on the quality of a business.
HB2973 will protect citizens from frivolous lawsuits and even the playing field for Texans being sued in a SLAPP suit for activities such as blogging, circulating petitions, organizing demonstrations, testifying at public hearings, and writing letters to the editor.
“These SLAPP suits are the bully’s weapon against democracy," said Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, one of the sponsors of the bill. "Across Texas and the nation, the powerful are using our courts — and the threat of high legal costs and bankruptcy — to silence critics and shield wrong-doers from scrutiny. HB 2973 evens the playing field and ensures the little guy won’t be put in the poor house for standing up for what he believes in.”
Only a month ago, Governor Perry proposed and passed “loser pays” in Texas. Now, he is using a situation that affects only a minute group of citizens to look “pro-citizens”. If this isn’t a “slap” in the face of Texans, I don’t know what is. Legitimate claims for medical malpractice or a serious auto accident are often called “frivolous” lawsuits. Greedy corporations and insurance companies will make every attempt with a lowball offer or drag the lawsuit out for years with their deep pockets. In the end, plaintiffs are victimized again; this time by damage caps. While anti-SLAPP stops big businesses from jamming the court dockets with frivolous cases over freedom of speech, where is the justice for legitimate claims by seriously injured victims? When will Perry care about seriously injured victims?
Lawsuit Financial will take Senator Ellis at his word and presume that he cares about social justice. The real hypocrite here is presidential candidate Governor Rick Perry. Suddenly, in this very small segment of civil litigation, he becomes pro-citizen? He could care less about “social justice”; loser pays proves this fact. With the exception of George W. Bush, Governor Perry has done more to harm “social justice” for citizens then any Texas politician in history, and because of this anti-SLAPP legislation, I am now free to say: GOVERNOR PERRY, YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE! If the country elects you president the entire country will be victims of “loser pays”.
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.