In November 2015, Mike Hull who successfully influenced Texas lawmakers to pass some of the strictest tort reform laws in the nation, resigned as outside counsel for Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Two months later, we learned that Hull has joined forces with mass tort litigator, Steve Mostyn on a transvaginal mesh class action. While this career change has many questioning his loyalty to the tort reform movement, Hull says he still considers himself a tort reform advocate. Huh? Well, if you ask Hull, the work he did was never intended to deny the citizens of Texas access to justice. Is that so? Tell that to Connie Spears, an amputee hindered by Texas tort reform.
This leads to another question: Why did Hull, who is mainly a medical malpractice defense attorney, leave is well-paid position with the TLR? Perhaps he lobbied himself out of a job. For years (and, apparently, still), Hull insisted we needed damage caps; now he supports lawsuits and punishments to protect consumers from reckless corporate types who put profits ahead of people and safety. I recently posted similar harsh words for Republican candidate for president, Ted Cruz. Like Cruz, Hull seems to advocate whatever position he is paid to advocate, whatever leads to personal gain. I don’t know the man; maybe he had a “come to Jesus” moment. But he sure seems to fit into my “tort reform hypocrite” hall of fame.
Tort reform groups, like the TLR, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince the public that personal injury litigation leads to higher insurance premiums. Not only is this incorrect, but limiting payments to victims does nothing to improve safety; it only makes insurance companies richer. The way our system should be working (as designed by our founding fathers) is on a case-by-case basis, in front of a judge and jury; a jury vested with the responsibility of hearing evidence, weighing it based on the facts, making a decision and determining an appropriate damage award. To constitutional Republicans, like Ted Cruz, the 7th Amendment should be as important as the 2nd.
It is frustrating that the average citizen (we’ll call him Ted) doesn’t really care about this constitutional issue. Ted doesn’t care about tort reform or that his elected official voted to limit his constitutional right to a trial by jury. Until something bad happens to Ted or Ted’s children, Ted doesn’t care that he is being lied to. By then, it is too late; Ted and his family could not seek justice because his elected official voted for arbitrarily lawsuits limits at the insistence of some lobbyist who provided campaign contributions in exchange for vote against citizens’ best interests and in violation of his 7th Amendment rights. Tort reform does not limit meritless lawsuits; traditionally, it caps serious ones and/or makes it harder for injury victims to hold wrongdoers accountable. People like Spears—and many, many others—have little or no recourse through the courts.
I am doubtful, but I hope that Hull has his “moment” and that the dangers of, and damages caused by, transvaginal mesh manufacturers open his eyes. Perhaps he will be a true convert, a sympathetic advocate of all injury victims (not just those in whom he has a vested financial interest). Hopefully, he will openly criticize litigation limits for the better of all citizens. Money is no substitute for being bound to a wheelchair or for the loss of a loved one, but holding wrongdoers fully and financially accountable makes all of us safer. Until we collectively declare safety to be our primary objective and that the Constitution is sacrosanct, we are all at risk to be the next statistic/victim. Mr Hull?
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.