The 86th Texas Legislative Session has been in swing for almost two months, so we thought now would be a good time to highlight some proposed legislation relating to civil litigation that may affect your business.

What if my Opponent Files a Claim in Arbitration After the Statute of Limitations Expires?

You might assume there is an obvious answer to this question – the claim is still barred.  HB 1744, filed by John Smithee of Amarillo, would make that crystal clear in Chapter 171 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.  Representative Smithee’s proposed bill would, however, create an exception for claims that were timely filed in court but then ordered to arbitration.  HB 1744 was filed on February 13, and no action has been taken so far.

Broadening the Right to Recover Attorney’s Fees in Contract Disputes

Under Texas law, a party may only recover attorney’s fees where it brings a breach of contract claim against an individual or a corporation.  A number of appellate court decisions over the past five years have interpreted that statute to mean that a plaintiff cannot recover attorney’s fees against a limited liability company, general partnership or limited partnership for breach of contract.  HB 370 aims to fix that loophole by amending Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 38.001 to state that recovery may be made against an individual, corporation or “organization,” which takes its definition from the Texas Business Organizations Code.  The bill was referred to the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence committee.  SB 471 also seeks to amend § 38.001’s scope.

Affidavits to Support the Reasonableness and Necessity of Medical Expenses

Representative Smithee also filed HB 1693, which would clarify that affidavits concerning the reasonableness and necessity of medical expenses served under Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code 18.001 are not evidence of, and does not support a finding of, causation for the asserted cause of action.  Additionally, the bill would move up the deadlines for plaintiffs and defendants to serve affidavits and counter-affidavits concerning the reasonableness and necessity of medical expenses.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor

Staying abreast of proposed legislative changes that may affect your business’s litigation rights is important so that you know whether there are strategic changes that you need to make to your operations in order to mitigate the risks, or capitalize on the opportunities, created by new legislation if it is enacted.