Pregnancy Discrimination Is On The Rise

An article in the March 28, 2007 Baltimore Sun highlighted the problem of pregnancy discrimination.  In 2006, there were a record number of pregnancy discrimination cases filed with the EEOC.  The author opines that one cause of this increase may be that more mothers are remaining in the workforce than ever before.

Of particular irony, was an EEOC settlement by Mother’s Work, Inc., a company that owns Motherhood Maternity, A Pea in the Pod, and Mimi Maternity, all stores that sell maternity clothing.

For a previous post on pregnancy discrimination, click here.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Legislation Alert: Court “Reorganization” Bill

On Monday, March 26, 2007, the Texas Senate begins hearings on a “court reorganization” bill proposed by Senator Duncan. Instead of a mere reorganization of the Courts, the bill would drastically change the way the Court system in Texas works and removes almost all local authority from the Judicial branch.

Initially, the bill expands Supreme Court jurisdiction. Currently, the Supreme Court is limited as to what types of cases it may hear. Under the new bill, the Supreme Court will have virtually unlimited power to overturn trial court judgments and orders under the guise of “clarifying important issues of law.” This is a solution without a problem. The Supreme Court already has the power to consider all cases involving issues about which there is a conflict among the Courts of Appeals. There is no need to disrupt the current appellate process. Moreover, the Supreme Court hasn’t received any additional staff or funding to handle the onslaught of new business.

The bill also reorganizes many of the current trial courts. On its face, there is nothing offensive about these changes. But these courts were established at the request of local citizens and leaders, and any changes should involve their input.

The bill also eliminates current small claims courts and gives the Supreme Court the authority to make rules to oversee these cases. Again, this is a solution without a problem. The bill assumes that the local authorities are mismanaging small claims courts, but there is no evidence that this is the case.

The most drastic part of the bill is the establishment of a new system to control “complex” cases. The bill authorizes the Supreme Court to impanel a new body that will be charged with removing “complex” cases from local courts and assigning them specially appointed judges. Unfortunately, the definition of “complex” is so broad that it could be read to cover almost all litigation that is tried in the district courts. The result is that most cases could be tried by specially appointed judges instead of locally elected judges. These judges could be appointed without any regard to whether they were elected of simply political appointments. Apparently the legislature doesn’t believe that our local judges have the capacity to handle routine cases.

The provision will also greatly delay litigation. For all cases involving this determination, there is an automatic mandamus (that appears to be an interlocutory appeal) to the Supreme Court to appeal the decision of whether the case is complex. Reportedly, if you look at the Supreme Court’s last 10 mandamuses, the average time from filing of petition to the Court’s issuance of an opinion is 594 days and lasted as long as 771 days. If it’s treated as an interlocutory appeal, the delay is even worse. Reportedly, if you look at the Court’s last 10 interlocutory appeals, the average time from filing to issuance of an opinion is 916 days and lasted as long as 1621 days. These types of delays could occur as a matter of course in most litigation.

The legislature’s bill analyses is here. The bill is also discussed here.

Not surprising, this bill is supported by Texans for Lawsuits Reform.

The bill is also being discussed on at least one other blog.

We urge anyone interested in civil justice issues to urge your Senator and Representatives to vote against this bill.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Seeks Reimbursement of Attorneys’ Fees, Part 2

Earlier we had a post reporting that Nathan Hecht, a Texas Supreme Court justice, was seeking legislation that would reimburse him for attorneys’ fees he incurred in defending himself from an ethics complaint. That story took another twist today when the Fort Worth Star Telegram published a story that Hecht had already been reimbursed for those attorneys’ fees by political supporters after Hecht allegedly wrote supporters and solicited donations. It appears that Hecht failed to tell the Senator he convinced to sponsor the bill about the collection. Senator Jeff Wentworth said he would not have introduced the bill if he knew that Hecht had already collected the money. With this revelation, Wentworth is pulling his support for the bill.

Hecht’s conduct brings up the always thorny issue of judges raising money from attorneys. As was commented in the article:

Andrew Wheat, a spokesman for Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit judicial watchdog group, said it is troubling that Hecht is trying to raise money from lawyers who most likely have cases before his court while also asking taxpayers to pay his legal bill.

“It sounds like double-dipping to me,” Wheat said. “He wants everybody to pay him for his pain. The lawyers in his courtroom, the taxpayers, too.”

One lawyer who did not want to be identified as criticizing the senior member of the state’s highest court said lawyers can’t afford to turn Hecht down, saying it would be a “death wish” if a client had case before the court.

The Star Telegram had previously written an editorial about Hecht’s conduct.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Legislative Update

For those interested in the legislative process, Texas Watch has issued a recent press release providing a summary of some of the pro-consumer legislation that is being proposed. 

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

More on Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

We had earlier written about the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Universal v. Brainard and how it makes uninsured/underinsured motorist car wreck and auto accident claims much more difficult.  Fortunately, a bill has been introduced that would reverse the decision.  The March 13, 2007 edition of the Austin American-Statesman has an article discussing the bill and an editorial encouraging lawmakers to adopt the legislation.  We ask you to consider asking your representatives and senators to vote in favor of the bill.  The bill will likely face significant opposition from the insurance lobby so any communication for the bill can make a difference.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Supreme Court Justice Wants Reimbursement Of Attorneys’ Fees

Just a few months after ruling that successful claimants in uninsured/underinsured motorist litigation can’t recover attorneys’ fees from insurance companies when the claimants prevail in a suit, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht is now lobbying for legislation that would award him attorneys’ fees for his own successful lawsuit, according to an article in the Austin American Statesman.

According to the article, Justice Hecht received an ethics rebuke from the State Commission of Judicial Conduct for his public comments surrounding Harriet Miers’ nomination for the US Supreme Court. Hecht challenged the rebuke and claims to have incurred attorneys’ fees in excess of $350,000.00 in the process (which seems excessive to us, but that’s another issue).

Two bills introduced in the Texas House and Senate would require the State of Texas to reimburse judges for any attorneys’ fees they incur in any successful challenges to similar rebukes from the State Commission of Judicial Conduct. Again, according to the article, the bills each contain a provision making the bills retroactive so that the only past claims they apply to are those of Justice Hecht.

Also pending in the legislature is House Bill 2013, which would undo the Supreme Court’s opinion and allow consumers to recover attorneys’ fees when they have to hire lawyers to sue their insurance companies for uninsured/underinsured motorist claims. Given Justice Hecht’s newfound interest in making sure that litigants are reimbursed attorneys’ fees when they are successful in their claims, we’re sure that Justice Hecht is also fervently lobbying the legislature to get this bill passed too.

To contact Austin Personal Injury Lawyer, Austin Personal Attorney, Austin Accident Lawyer, Austin Injury Lawyer Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC or to learn more about Austin Personal Injury visit http://www.civtrial.com/.

Perlmutter & Schuelke, PLLC maintains offices in Austin, Texas. However, our attorneys and lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Forth Worth, El Paso, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Round Rock, Georgetown, Lockhart, Bastrop, Elgin, Manor, Brenham, Cedar Park, Burnet, Marble Falls, Temple and Killeen. By Brooks Schuelke


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