Barratry, in a generic sense, refers to the generation of profit for legal services by an attorney who stirs up a dispute and encourages lawsuits in order to file what is typically a groundless claim. Though illegal, it’s still a problem and with that, Estate of Denial® is pleased to join community organizations like Hispanas Unidas and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in delivering an important message about this predatory practice.
Barratry, also known as ambulance chasing, threatens the public on numerous fronts by encouraging targeted individuals to pursue lawsuits with questionable merit or cases that are blatantly frivolous. These actions harm companies by causing needless expenditures of both money and time to defend themselves. Such suits can threaten a business’ existence and reduce employee job security. These actions further clog the legal system and legitimate cases of all types are slowed down with their attention received lessened and their costs increased. And finally, plaintiffs are routinely disappointed – maybe even feel used. Attorneys’ fees often consume (and not by accident) the bulk of any settlement or other dollars awarded. Compensation received by plaintiffs or other parties often fails to equal what was promised or even the alleged victims’ time and emotional effort spent.
A recent news release distributed by the community organizations noted above offered the following:
The unethical practice of barratry by personal injury lawyers, commonly referred to as ambulance chasing, is illegal in the state of Texas.
According to legal watchdogs such as the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, some parts of Texas in particular are facing a resurgence in the unlawful practice of barratry.
The state’s new barratry law, effective September 1, 2011, is now part of the Texas criminal code making it a felony for lawyers, or those employed by them, to approach victims of an accident and offer to represent them. The selection of legal counsel should be done freely and voluntarily by the client himself. This is a link to the article: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Lawyer-again-accused-of-soliciting-clients-3664600.php.
The release goes on to discuss open investigations of barratry in the Brownsville area and in San Antonio. It also gives information on how to report such cases. To read the full release, click Ambulance Chasing is Illegal in Texas 120710.
This discussion reminds of the recent EoD column, Texas dental clinics provide new front in predatory litigation, which highlighted scrutiny befalling Texas dental management service organizations (DMSOs) – an emerging business model providing affordable dental care to a previously under-served market. As services are often accessed through government programs, this new delivery system offers important cost savings. Sadly, access to dental care and tax dollar efficiencies are now threatened as companies like Kool Smiles must defend themselves against solicitations of claims over allegedly questionable patient procedures and treatments.
Thanks to hard-working and innovative Texans embracing largely responsible public policies including tort reform, our state has been less impacted by the recent economic downturn than other areas of the country. That said, people – along with companies and even industries – are still out hustling and unabashedly preying on vulnerable population segments in order to make a dollar.
Estate of Denial® dislikes predatory actions. Probate-related actions involving wills, trusts, guardianships or powers of attorney are our focus area, but make no mistake – exploitative legal actions utilizing any means and directed toward any category of Americans are unacceptable.
Taking advantage of anyone is a bad thing. Doing it for illicit financial gain is even worse. It’s that simple and the public will hopefully take note of the harm which barratry creates as well as share this important message with unsuspecting family, friends and neighbors.
Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com, a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas and a Director of Women on the Wall. Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.