1400 Gables Ct #103 Plano, TX 75075
5601 Bridge Street, #300, Ft. Worth, TX 76112

Plano Business Litigation Attorney

“It has long been the case that bringing a groundless suit carries risks for the Plaintiff,” says Plano Business Litigation Attorney Richard L. Armstrong.  One such risk is that a Plaintiff must pay for the suit to go forward, and no reasonable person wants to waste money on an obvious loser. Another risk is that both Texas rules of court and a statute provide sanctions and penalties for suits that can be shown to have no merit. However, until September 1st of 2011, Texas lacked a procedural device for winnowing out meritless suits early in the litigation process: The motion to dismiss. Such a motion has been available in federal courts from the beginning. But until comparatively recently, in Texas a defendant typically had to bring a “motion for summary judgment” to prove a plaintiff’s case was spurious, and such motions can be expensive. And even if the Defendant won that motion, he couldn’t recover his legal costs from his adversary. Under the “Loser Pays” rule, if a judge can be persuaded that a case is devoid of merit and he grants a Defendant’s motion to dismiss, he must, by statute, award the Defendant an amount for his costs of defense, including attorneys’ fees.

While this is a positive development for Texas courts and for any business that has ever been on the receiving end of a spurious lawsuit, this lawyer thinks that it has had very minimal effects on litigation generally. Why? Because lawyers representing Plaintiffs don’t want to waste their time and their client’s money chasing a rainbow. Much as the conservative media likes to deride “frivolous lawsuits,” it is, and always has been, silly to pursue a case that obviously cannot be proven. No lawyer wants to explain to his client why he spent its money to no avail, or even subjected the client or himself to the risk of sanctions for a frivolous suit. It has never made any sense to do so—which is why far more is made of the subject by parties who are politically motivated than anyone actually involved in such suits. Oh sure, in the entire state of Texas there may be a few suits dismissed each year where the Plaintiff has to pay the defense its costs, but I suggest very few. There were already plenty of deterrents to meritless suits in place before the new statute took effect. Proponents of the law who believed it would operate as a lightning bolt to deter meritless suits are bound to have been disappointed. First, very few truly non-meritorious suits are ever brought. Second, any merit at all is enough to save marginal suits from dismissal. Nevertheless, I do believe that the threat of fees and costs being assessed against a Plaintiff may prove to be a useful negotiation tool in settling suits. Only time will tell how effective this strategy is.

Business  litigation attorneys at Armstrong The Law Firm, P.C.  are experienced in representing clients successfully through the Texas state and federal courts. Call 972-424-L-A-W-S (5297) or visit www.Planobusinesslawyers.com .  For help with personal injury matters, visit www.planoinjurylaw.com

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Armstrong The Law Firm, P.C.
Plano Location
1400 Gables Ct #103
Plano, TX 75075

Fort Worth Location (By Appointment Only)
5601 Bridge Street, Ste. 300
Ft. Worth, Texas 76112

Phone: (972) 424-5297