A grown man sat in my office last week and cried like a baby. He had buried his wife and their first child less than a month earlier, both the victims of medical negligence. He came to us for help, wanting answers to why his young, healthy wife and his unborn son are now gone. He struggled to simply breathe. I thought of my wife and my two girls and I cried, too.
What do you say to a fellow like this? I confess that I was at a loss. Once we plaintiff lawyers could at least offer some comfort, inadequate as it was, that the civil justice system might provide answers and maybe, just maybe, some attempt at compensation. Now I had to explain that politicians in Austin have already decided what his loss is worth. I had to tell him that because his beautiful wife and the son that was to bear his name were the victims of medical negligence, the courthouse doors had been closed by the very people who represent his family in the Capitol.
Do you know what was most frustrating about this scenario? This man had not voted on Proposition 12 and had no idea of the damage that it did to the Texas Constitution. Before this tragedy befell him, he was one of the thousands of uninformed, misinformed or indifferent Texans who did not understand what HB 4 and Proposition 12 really did to their rights. He knows the truth now, unfortunately.
So what can we trial lawyers do about this ? Speak up. Educate others. Make sure your families, friends and clients are registered to vote and that they do vote. Get involved with your elected representatives. Let them know that we will hold them accountable for the promises made when they stripped away our rights. When you turn down cases that are no longer economical due to “tort reform,” make sure the potential clients know how to contact their senators and representatives in Austin, because odds are they voted in favor of HB 4.
And above all, keep fighting. Fight for victims. Fight for justice. Fight the negative stereotypes about trial lawyers and the “tort reform” propaganda. Fight for what is right and never, ever give up.