Today marks a great day for the American people; Governor Rick Perry has dropped out of the Republican presidential race. In August, I wrote a blog titled, “Top Ten Things Rick Perry Should Apologize For (So Far…Campaign Has Just Begun!).” Now that his campaign is coming to an end, I would like to add one more thing the Governor should apologize for, but I can promise you it won’t be the last apology.
11. Filing a Frivolous Lawsuit. In order to be placed on the presidential ballot, Virginia requires candidates to obtain the signatures of 10,000 registered voters, including 400 from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts. Virginia law also allows only residents to circulate petitions. Governor Rick Perry knowingly failed to submit enough signatures and then filed a federal lawsuit to force the state of Virginia to put him on the ballot. So, he knew the requirements, failed to comply, and then filed a lawsuit contending that his constitutional rights were violated.
On January 13, U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney said that because Perry knew of the requirements and had ample time to get enough signatures, his constitutional argument was late. If Perry decided that the law was unconstitutional, he could and should have filed a claim well in advance of the December deadline to turn in signatures. Perry appealed Gibney’s decision and asked the U. S. Court of Appeals to order his name be placed on the ballot, or order that ballots not be printed or mailed before his appeal is considered.
It took less than a month, for this case to be thrown out. Why? Because the lawsuit was “frivolous” – one with no legal basis; one that is so petty, suit isn’t justified. Governor Perry has experienced, first hand, how our justice system deals with “frivolous lawsuits”; judges review them and dismiss them; in short order there are mechanisms in place to prevent and dismiss “frivolous” lawsuits. In Texas, Perry was proud of the fact that he sponsored and passed “loser pays” legislation. So, the important question is: “Hey, Mr. Loser Pays, have you cut a check to the court and to the defense for filing your “frivolous lawsuit”?
In Texas, Governor Perry has been railing against trial lawyers for years, indicating that frivolous lawsuits were “bad for business” and that restricting court access was a good thing. But he didn’t really mean “frivolous lawsuits” like his Virginia lawsuit. He successfully lobbied for damages caps on serious lawsuits. Why? To bail out and protect greedy corporate donors from being sued, successfully, for the serious injuries caused by their negligent or egregious conduct. In other words, corporate profits were more important to Perry than the rights of Texas citizens to right wrongs in litigation. In his book, Fed Up, he argued that states should be free to adopt their own laws. But when the Virginia law hurts his Presidential campaign, he tries to persuade the federal courts to overturn it; talking about wanting to have it both ways!
I have written blog after blog about the civil justice system. It works just fine, thank you very much. As is evident in Perry’s case, there are mechanisms in place to quickly dismiss a case if it is deemed “frivolous”; judges will not allow worthless cases to clog the courts. The “frivolous” case often ends with serious cost assessments and other consequences to the lawyer and the plaintiff who brought it. Again I ask you, Governor, are you putting your money where your mouth is? Have you written the check yet?
Do you now see how our civil justice system works, Governor Perry? The few frivolous cases, like yours, are summarily dismissed. They don’t clog dockets; they rarely see a jury. We do not need reform for these cases. But that was never what your anti-citizen, pro-corporate interest, campaign was about, was it? You succeeded in limiting seriously hurt people from collecting fair compensation from serious corporate wrongdoers. You never sought to limit the “frivolous”; you always sought (and seized every opportunity) to punish the victims and reward the perpetrators.
Congratulations on pulling the wool over the eyes of the Texas public, the citizens who must foot the bill for amounts of money that tort reform prevents citizens from collecting from wrongdoers. Congratulations for accomplishing the first corporate “bail out” in an American state. And, thank God that America caught on to your act, even if Texas didn’t, and dismissed you as the inadequate Presidential candidate that you were. And, you have added another title to your resume: “Tort Reform Hypocrite”. “Frivolous lawsuits” are fine, if you or your misguided colleagues are the ones filing them.
The injustice of tort reform and loser pays impacts the lives on innocent victims; it penalizes victims and taxpayers for the wrongful acts of others. These measures do nothing to curb "abuse" or "frivolity"; what you call “tort reform” only restricts citizen access and damages for serious injuries. Tort reform is not about “lawsuit abuse” or '”jackpot justice”. It is not about “frivolous” lawsuits; it is about capping recoveries in serious cases, when serious injuries have resulted from serious breaches of conduct.
You have spent years destroying the rights of the citizens of Texas; for years you have trampled on the constitutional rights of innocent victims to the benefit of corporations and then, falsely proclaimed that your misbehavior was responsible for job creation. Finally, though, you have actually done something for the good of the citizens, for the good of the country. Finally, I support one of your positions. The country could not possibly stomach 4-8 years of the likes of you. Thank you, thank you, for stepping out of the race. Could you do one more thing for the good of the citizens? Do what is just and right for Texas and don’t run for re-election as governor.
Perry had this to say as he dropped out of the race:
"I've always believed the mission is greater than the man."
Twice in one blog, I agree with Rick Perry! My mission is to eradicate tort reform and the myth that the civil justice system needs this ridiculous corporate bailout. I will continue to expose politicians like Rick Perry who put needless corporate interests ahead of citizen interests. As for Perry’s future, it is my sincere wish that the citizens of Texas treat him exactly the way the citizen of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Virginia have. I sincerely wish you well in the private sector.
Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen 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 a plaintiff 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, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, 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 the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He 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.