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| Lawsuit Financial Corp

When Republican presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, ran for Senate in 2012, he boasted that his campaign was financed, significantly, with personal assets.  Last week, we learned that he received sizable loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank.  We also learned (much less publicized) that Mr. Cruz is the ultimate tort reform hypocrite.

When Cruz ran for Senate in 2012, his website stated that he had defended a landmark pro-business tort reform law passed in Texas in 2003. Cruz also touted that when he had been a policy adviser on George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign, he developed Bush’s pro-tort reform proposals. After becoming Senator, Cruz was quoted as saying that Texas-style tort reform—which places a cap of $750,000 on punitive damages—should be a model for national law.  However, as a lawyer, in line to collect large attorney fees for his appellate work, Mr. Cruz sang a different tune.  According to the New York Times, Cruz, in 2010 and 2011, received more than $3 million in attorney fees, advocating for plaintiffs who won record-setting personal injury awards in New Mexico.

As a lawyer, Cruz represented the plaintiffs in an appeal of a jury award in a nursing home negligence case in which the patient bled to death over the course of several days. A jury had found that the nursing home had been negligent and awarded the family $53.2 million, with $50 million of that in punitive damages; the nursing home appealed the decision.  After Cruz’s stellar work on the plaintiff’s behalf, the parties reached a settlement for “unspecified millions”, a settlement negotiated the night before the case was to go to the Supreme Court,  In another appeals case, Mr. Cruz argued to reinstate a $54 million damage award for a mentally disabled man brutally raped by an employee of the residential-care facility where he lived. Cruz declared that “a large punitive damages award is justified by the need to deter conduct that is hard to detect and often goes unpunished.” After oral arguments, the case was settled for an undisclosed amount, before the appeals court reached a decision. By the time Cruz was paid attorney fees for his work on the case, he had become senator, and tort reform was one of his key issues. These two results remain the largest settlements in state history.

In the courtroom, Cruz insisted that such lawsuits and punishments were needed to protect consumers from reckless corporations that put profits ahead of people.  He was absolutely correct, then. Considering his perseverance in these cases, and his claim to be a constitutional Republican, one would think Cruz would be sympathetic to all injury victims (not just those who he had a financial interest in) that he would advocate for all victims of corporate and professional negligence.  Instead, after making millions of dollars protecting huge jury verdicts in New Mexico, he placed his own political interests and pursuits above the injured and disabled citizens of Texas, advocating for laws that slammed the courtroom doors in their faces. The policies that he helped secure as Texas law make it impossible for innocent victims to be fairly compensated for their serious injuries. Today, Mr. Cruz touts Texas-style tort reform as a “fix” for a tort systems that needs no such fix.  These types of anti-citizen, anti-safety, tort policies amount to corporate welfare.  The burden of support for these unfortunate injury victims will fall, instead, on the taxpayers.  Why would Cruz do this, you ask?  Because his biggest supporters are billion dollar corporations and the owners of these corporations; those who advocate for protection from jury verdicts.  Cruz is the ultimate tort reform hypocrite.

Republican candidates believe that whatever is good for their largest contributors is good for our citizens.  Common sense tells us how ridiculous this is.  Juries and jury verdicts are this country’s most important safety tools.  Restrictions on litigation and litigation verdicts suppress meritorious claims and deny fair and just compensation to innocent victims.  “Tort reform”, has little to do with preventing so-called “frivolous” lawsuits and much more to do with preventing large verdicts in serious ones.  Ask yourself this question:  What “frivolous” lawsuit needs a damages cap of $750,000, forcing taxpayers to ultimately foot the bill? This is the outcome Ted Cruz supports (unless he is profiting from a justly deserved settlement).

These shouldn’t be Democrat vs. Republican issues; they are fundamental rights and punishment for wrongdoing issues.  The 7th Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees a fundamental right to jury trial in all civil cases that exceed a value of $25 (one could argue that the minimum value limit should be adjusted to present time value, but not the maximum).  Many Republicans advocate at the tops of their voices for 2nd Amendment rights (mainly because of gun lobby money) but virtually ignore the mandates of the 7th Amendment.  Why?  Money.  They get huge political contributions from those who benefit from a justice system that is rigged in favor of the wrongdoers.   I want my elected officials fighting for the constitutional rights of all citizens.  I don’t want a constitutional hypocrite to be our next president.  Do you?

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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