Monday, October 29, 2012

B.A.C.A.L.A.: Connie Scott is so predictable when it comes to TLR but how does barring civil justice recourse create JOBS?? OH, I guess it created one for her.

B.A.C.A.L.A.: Connie Scott is so predictable when it comes to TLR but how does barring civil justice recourse create JOBS?? OH, I guess it created one for her.

Connie Scott is so predictable when it comes to TLR but how does barring civil justice recourse create JOBS?? OH, I guess it created one for her.

Representative Connie Scott Earns Statewide Award for Fighting Lawsuit Abuse FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 15, 2011 Contact: Sherry Sylvester 210-241-5296 (Austin, TX) Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC today awarded State Rep. Connie Scott the TLR Civil Justice Leadership Award for her support of civil justice reform in Texas. Speaking to a luncheon in Corpus Christi, TLR PAC Chairman Richard Trabulsi said: “Connie Scott has worked tirelessly to reduce lawsuit abuse in Texas. She is a principled conservative who is committed to a fair, balanced and predictable civil justice system. After her election to the Texas House in 2010, her service on the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee was critical in passing legislation against barratry as well as moving the Omnibus Tort Bill of 2011 (HB 274) forward. Rep. Scott clearly understands the importance of tort reform in creating jobs, strengthening the state’s economy and assuring that every Texan has access to doctors and health care. TLR PAC is proud to present her with TLR's Civil Justice Leadership Award." TLR PAC’s Civil Justice Leadership Award is presented to lawmakers who take a stand in support of the model lawsuit reforms that are boosting the Texas economy, creating jobs and increasing access to doctors and health care in every community. Rep. Scott represents Texas House District 34, which includes part of Nueces County. She is a member of the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee, the Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee and the Local and Consent Calendars Committee. She is the former Executive Director of Bay Area Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse where she was an outspoken advocate of lawsuit reform. TLR PAC is the political arm of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the state's largest civil justice reform organization. TLR is a bipartisan, volunteer-led coalition with more than 17,000 supporters residing in 818 Texas communities and representing 1,266 different businesses, professions and trades. For more information about TLR PAC visit The only job created by this stripping you of access to the courts for civil remedies is a paid volunteer positions TLR claims boost our economy (what planet are these people on)? There are not, nor has there been any increases in JOBs since these bankers "BANKED on the disengagement of the average citizen in the formulation of public policy" A TLR Leo Linbecks's a founders direct quote in Texas Monthly November 2005 cover article by Mimi Schwartz tu

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tip of the Iceberg: Re: The Exact Science of Junk Science: Brown Bags, Asbestos, Silicosis

Tip of the Iceberg: Re: The Exact Science of Junk Science: Brown Bags, Asbestos, Silicosis

VA Benefits FAQs
1) What are the Eligibility Criteria for Veterans to Receive Benefits from the VA?

Eligibility for most VA benefits is based on discharge from active military service under other-than-dishonorable conditions. Active service means full-time service (and not active duty for training) as a member of the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, Environmental Science Services Administration or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or its predecessor, the Coast and Geodetic Survey.

2) What kind of compensation are Veterans entitled to if they have a disability caused by Military Service?

When veterans are diagnosed with a disability that is "service-connected", the primary VA benefit they are entitled to is Disability Compensation. To apply for Disability Compensation, veterans must fill out a VA 21-526 form (Application for Disability Compensation and/or Pension) and file it with the Regional VA Office in their state. The "Regional Office" is a branch of the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs, not the State's Department of Veterans Affairs.

**Note: For veterans filing for an asbestos illness, there are some additional steps you need to take to justify your claim. You should use Part XIII – Remarks Section to detail your exposures to asbestos while on active duty. You should be specific and give examples of times you were exposed. Also include information about what you did before and after your military service. You will need to convince the VA that more than half of your lifetime exposure to asbestos occurred on active duty. If the remarks section is too small to provide all the detail you feel is necessary to explain your exposure, you can write it on a separate sheet of paper, and attach it to the 526 and simply refer to the attachment in the Remarks section of the application. (Example: For a continuation of Part XIII, write "Continuation of Part XIII" at the top of the page, and then include your name VA claim number. If this is your first claim, you will not have a VA claim number. Write your Social Security number instead.)

3) Are there benefits for Veterans based on income?

Although most benefits (such as disability compensation) are based on whether a veteran has a service-connected disability, it is possible to receive benefits (such as VA pension) and qualify for VA health services even if you do not have a service-connected disability. To qualify, you must show that your income and personal assets prevent you from enjoying a minimum quality of life or affording your own health care insurance. Veterans can only receive VA disability compensation or pension, but not both. If a veteran qualifies for both, he will be awarded the higher-paying monthly benefit (which is typically disability compensation). If a veteran qualifies for VA health services solely based on income, they are usually required to make co-pays for VA prescriptions and health-care services.

4) What information or evidence must I show to substantiate my Disability Claim?

To substantiate a claim for service connection, the evidence must show three things:

You have an injury or disease that began or was made worse during military service, or there was an event during service that caused injury or disease. In the case of asbestos illnesses, the event is the exposure to asbestos while on active duty. The VA will look at pre- and post-service asbestos exposure. To demonstrate the illness is "service-connected," the veteran must make that case that the active duty exposure was more likely than not, the cause of the disease.
You now have a physical or mental disability, as backed by medical records.
Your current disability is related to the injury, disease, or event in military service. Again, medical evidence may be needed. This means you must have medical evidence to demonstrate that you have an accepted "asbestos" disease.
5) What diseases are recognized by VA as being caused by asbestos?

The VA acknowledges that inhalation of asbestos fibers can produce:

fibrosis, the most commonly occurring of which is interstitial asbestos pulmonary fibrosis
pleural effusions and fibrosis
pleural plaques
mesothelioma of pleura and peritoneum
cancers of the
gastrointestinal tract
pharynx, and
urogenital system, except the prostate.
The biological actions of the various fibers differ in some respects, in that:

chrysotile products

have their initial effects on the small airways of the lung
cause asbestosis more slowly, and
result in lung cancer more often, and
crocidolite and amosite

have more initial effects on the small blood vessels of the lung, alveolar walls, and pleura, and result more often in mesothelioma.
Note: Generally speaking, a doctor must state in writing that an illness has been caused by asbestos. Exceptions are asbestosis and mesothelioma, which are accepted by the VA as ONLY caused by asbestos exposure.

6) What factors will the VA consider when deciding on my asbestos claim?

When deciding a claim for service connection for a disability related to exposure to asbestos, the VA will:

determine if service records demonstrate the veteran was exposed to asbestos during service
ensure that development is accomplished to determine if the veteran was exposed to asbestos either before or after service, and
determine if a relationship exists between exposure to asbestos and the claimed disease.
7) What is a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) and what does a VSO do?

VSO's are paid by either a state's Department of Veterans Affairs or by one of the many Veterans Service Organizations to act as a direct representative of the veteran when dealing with the VA. But VSOs do NOT work for the VA. VSO also assist veterans in filling out paperwork, ensuring it is complete and correct before filing, and will track the claim progress. We instruct veterans not to deal directly with the VA but to work through a VSO, who are experts in the process and can act as guides through a complicated process.

8) What does the VSO need to file my disability claim with the VA?

To apply for Disability Compensation, veterans need to provide their VSO the following items:

A completed VA 21-526.
A copy of their DD 214 (discharge paperwork). If this paperwork has disappeared, a copy can be in obtained from the National Personnel Records Center. A VSO can assist in this.
Copies of pertinent medical records (or a signed medical release allowing the VA to request those records).*
If the veteran is married, a copy of the marriage certificate (this proves he/she has a dependant which provides for greater disability compensation).
*This document is a VA-21-4142 and is included at the end of the VA 21-526 form.

9) How do I find a VSO?

If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease and need assistance in finding a nearby Veteran Service Officer, the easiest way is to contact our veterans department. A veteran counselor can assist you in locating a VSO. If you live in a rural area, a good option is asking your state or county about VSOs that work for them. VSOs that work for one of the Veteran Service Organizations – such as AMVETS or Disabled American Veterans – are typically located in large metropolitan areas.

10) What does the VA do after it receives my claim?

After the VA receives an Application for Disability Compensation, it sends a confirmation letter to the veteran outlining what was received. It will also schedule a medical appointment at the nearest VA Medical Facility so the veteran can be evaluated. During the exam, the veteran will be asked about asbestos exposure while on active duty and after active duty. For asbestos cancers, a medical exam is typically not required: Medical records diagnosing that cancer are often sufficient.

11) How much will I receive if I am approved for VA Disability Compensation?

Payments by the VA for a "service connected" disability are based on a rating given by the VA, expressed in 10% increments. Exact disability payments vary. They depend on:

the disability rating.
the number of dependents.
and other factors, such as whether the veteran is house-bound or in need of regular aid and attendance.
The basic payment varies between $123 a month for a veteran with a 10% disability rating to $2,673 a month for a 100% disability rating. Mesothelioma and Lung Cancers caused by asbestos are rated at 100%. Non-cancerous asbestos illnesses are rated anywhere from 0% to 100% (primarily based on the results of a Pulmonary Function Test).

12) How long will it take for the VA to make a decision on my claim?

It's different in every state.

The amount of time it takes to adjudicate a Disability Compensation claim varies depending on State.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has one or more VA Regional Offices in each state, and backlogs vary by state. Generally speaking, it takes about 6-8 months to get a decision. However, the VA's "Fully Developed Claim" (FDC) program now allows veterans or a counselor to gather necessary paperwork to help the VA's rating representative make a decision on a claim. The program has helped expedite claims through the VA's vast system, typically resulting in decisions in only a few months. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease and would like more information about how to file using the FDC program, contact our veterans department and one of our veterans counselors will provide you with the information and assistance necessary to file a FDC.

13) What is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and who is eligible for it?

DIC is a benefit paid to a surviving spouse and/or dependent children of a veteran who died from a service-connected disability. For a survivor to be eligible for DIC, the veteran's death must have stemmed from one of the following:

A disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while on active duty or active duty for training.
An injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while on inactive duty training.
A service-connected disability or a condition directly related to a service-connected disability.
Spouses receive a basic monthly payment, plus an additional payment for dependent children if they require aid and assistance, or if they are house-bound. For more information, contact your local VSO.

14) Will a lawsuit against an asbestos company affect my VA disability benefits?

No. The VA is not concerned about any money you may be awarded from a lawsuit or from an asbestos company's bankruptcy trust fund when applying for VA Disability Compensation. The VA's primary financial concern is that you do not "double-dip" on a benefit – that any disability payments you receive aren't also coming from the military for the same disability. You cannot receive money from the government twice for the same illness. The VA also will consider your financial situation when the benefit for which you are applying is based on your income level, such as a VA Pension.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas for Smith's "zero tolerance approach to what he considers abusive lawsuits designed to harass, not ri

How Pray Tell Does This "know" how Abusive lawsuits are "designed"?

The Disengagement of the Average citizen in the formulation of public policy?

Out of the Mouth......... the truth speaks:


* Hurt? Injured? Need a Lawyer? Too Bad!
By Mimi Swartz

Texas Monthly

In its November 2005 issue, Texas Monthly magazine published an article on so-called "tort reform" in Texas. The article, titled Hurt? Injured? Need a Lawyer? Too Bad!, is the best example we have seen of how Texas families have been affected by new laws like HB 4.

We have obtained the rights to provide a link to the article at TTLA. If you link through our website, you will not have to register with Texas Monthly or pay for the article. We hope you will read the article and encourage you to invite your family, friends and colleagues to visit TTLA and access the link. It will be active until February 2006 (possibly longer), and you need not be a TTLA member to use the link.

**Please note: This article is copyrighted by Texas Monthly and cannot be reproduced or distributed without express permission from Texas Monthly. For more information, contact Texas Monthly at (512) 320-6900. As always, please contact TTLA at (512) 476-3852 if you have questions or need assistance.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Banking on the "disengagement of the average citizen in the formulation of public policy...........

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Texans for Lawsuit Reform: How the Texas Tort Tycoons Spent Millions in the 2000 Elections
III. Who Financed TLR's PAC?

In the 2000 election cycle, the TLR PAC spent $1.4 million, up from the $1.2 million that it spent in the 1998 cycle. This spending makes it Texas' fifth most powerful PAC.9

The latest PAC data reveal that TLR is increasing its dependence on a small pool of wealthy tycoons who have a keen interest in weaker tort laws. TLR's top five donor families (see table) accounted for almost half ($691,000) of the $1.5 million that TLR raised in the 2000 cycle. Moreover, the top 24 donors contributed almost $1.2 million, or 80 percent of TLR's take.

Top TLR Donors in the 2000 Election Cycle
Big TLR Donor Donor's Tort Interest City Money To
TLR in 2000 Total TX 2000
Gordon Cain Sterling Group (chemicals) Houston

Harlan Crow Trammell Crow (real estate) Dallas

Dick Weekley Weekley Homes/Properties Houston

Robert C. McNair Cogen Tech. (electric utilities) Houston

Bob J. Perry Perry Homes Houston

James R. Leininger Kinetic Concepts (hospital beds) San Antonio

William A. McMinn Sterling Group (chemicals) Houston

Michael S. Stevens M. Stevens Interests (apartments) Houston

James A. Elkins, Jr. First City Bancorp Houston

Dan L. Duncan Enterprise Products (oil/gas) Houston

Ken L. Lay Enron (gas) Houston

Walter Negley WWN Corp (fastener testing lab) Houston

Robert B. Rowling TRT Holdings (oil/gas/hotels) Dallas

Harold Simmons Valhi/Contran (corporate raids) Dallas

David M. Underwood Everen Securities Houston

Ernst & Young (accounting) Houston

Price Waterhouse (accounting) Houston

James R. Lightner Electrospace Systems (defense) Dallas

Dennis R. Berman Denitech (copier leasing) Irving

Joseph Jan Collmer Collmer Semiconductor Dallas

William R. Cooper Paragon Group (apartments) Dallas

Ray L. Hunt Hunt Oil/Woodbine Development Dallas

Jeff Davis Sandefer Sandefer Capital Partners Austin

Texas Industries (cement/toxic incineration) Dallas


*Includes contributions by named individuals and their immediate family members. Statewide totals include contributions to all Texas statewide and legislative races, as well as to other Texas candidates and PACs that filed electronic disclosure reports (including TLR).

The people who provided most of TLR's PAC money made fortunes in industries with heavy legal liabilities. As shown in the accompanying table, these industries include: the chemical and energy industries (toxic pollution, accidents); builders (injured workers and lemon homes); property managers (premises liability); accounting and investment firms (securities lawsuits) and medical manufacturers (patient injuries).

In Texas-where there are no limits on most political contributions-the influence of the TLR tycoons extends far beyond their tort money. TLR's top 24 donors spent a total of at least $4.5 million to influence Texas politics in the 2000 election cycle. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry spent an astounding $912,500 in the 2000 cycle. In fact, all but three of TLR's top 15 donors gave more than $100,000 apiece to Texas PACs and candidates. Such donors go beyond mere political influence: they are king makers whose personal checks can determine who wins or loses a competitive race.

Dick Weekley Leo Linbeck, Jr. Richard Trabulsi, Jr.
The family of strip mall developer and TLR President Richard Weekley owes much of its fortune to homebuilding. With 2000 revenues of $711 million, Forbes ranked David Weekley Homes as the nation's 384th largest privately held company.

The Weekleys have been parties to plenty of lawsuits. In 1995, 11 Spring, Texas homeowners filed suit, alleging that their new Weekley homes cracked up because they were built on bad foundations. Plaintiff Carlos Murillo complained that the builder refused to finish his house until he put up a yard sign that said, "Come Talk To Me Before You Buy a David Weekley Home." The owner of a home security business, Murillo figured out that the security system that he installed on his new home kept going off because its motion sensors picked up on his crackling foundation long before he did. He and neighboring plaintiffs sought damages under Texas' Deceptive Trade Practices Act, a consumer-protection law that TLR got lawmakers to gut the year that Murillo sued Weekley Homes.10

After Murillo's neighborhood cracked up, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC) began uncovering Weekley Homes construction waste in fly-by-night illegal dumps outside San Antonio and The Woodlands. A 1996 TNRCC warning letter reminded Weekley Homes that waste generators are legally responsible for the "transportation, processing, storage and disposal of their wastes, even when these activities are performed by another party."

Weekley Homes barred Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors from a Colorado construction site for two years-until a federal judge ordered the company to grant access to inspectors. In 1996, OSHA levied the largest worker safety fine in Colorado history on Weekley Homes for six "willful" violations of safety laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission threw out these fines in 2000, ruling that OSHA failed to prove that Weekley Homes was aware of the violations, which involved contract workers.11

Given this history, it is not surprising that Dick Weekley's TLR has lobbied Texas legislators to slash the liability that businesses face for subcontract workers and for incidents in which they are only partly responsible for harming customers, workers or communities.12
TLR Chair Leo Linbeck, Jr., heads a construction firm that had 2000 revenues of $239 million. He also co-founded Americans for Fair Taxation, which seeks to replace federal income taxes with a national sales tax that would shift more of the tax burden from the rich to the poor.

Linbeck is best known for heading Texas A&M's probe into the 1999 bonfire tragedy that killed 12 people. Stacked with three TLR PAC contributors, Linbeck's five-member panel never pursued a basic question. Namely, Did Texas' $500,000 cap on the liability of state entities encourage A&M to ignore the foreseeable risks of letting thousands of poorly supervised students work around the clock stacking telephone-pole-sized logs on top of one another?

Certainly Linbeck knows the liabilities posed by dangerous work sites. Linbeck Construction was a party to more than 125 Houston lawsuits between 1978 and 1995.13 Some of these lawsuits reflect the fact that construction is Texas' deadliest industry, accounting for 6 percent of the state's workforce and 26 percent of its on-the-job fatalities.14 A 43-year-old employee, Jerry Jordan, was electrocuted to death at a Linbeck Construction site in Beaumont in 1985, for example, when the crane he was operating hit a dangling power line carrying 7,600 volts. A crane collapsed at a Linbeck site in Dallas two years later, killing three contract workers and hospitalizing a Linbeck worker.

Government inspectors have recommended a paltry $12,565 in fines against Linbeck Construction for 31 "serious" health and safety violations since 1985. The company so far has negotiated these fines down to just $8,790.

Juries often are tougher than regulators. Working for $7 an hour for a Linbeck Construction subcontractor in 1995, Mexican national Rodrigo Martinez was paralyzed after falling into an open basement. In a resulting lawsuit, the trial judge instructed the jury that Linbeck Construction "failed to comply with their duty to preserve evidence." Finding that the company acted with malice, a jury ordered Linbeck Construction to pay Martinez $6 million in actual damages and $1 million in the punitive damages that juries use to punish particularly irresponsible behavior. The parties confidentially settled before the judge entered a final judgment in the case.16 In another case, contract worker Edilberto Martinez sued Linbeck Construction for rollover injuries that he sustained after being ordered to drive a truck up a steep dirt embankment in 1994. The parties settled that suit for $100,000 in 1996.16

TLR has pushed bills to further diminish construction firms' responsibility for contract workers who get injured on their work sites. Defending such legislation in 1997, Linbeck said that workers turn their injuries into "a lottery ticket" by collecting workers compensation insurance and then collecting damages all over again from contractors.17 In fact, state workers compensation laws only compensate workers for a fraction of their true injury costs.
TLR co-founder Richard Trabulsi, Jr. owns Richard's Liquors and Fine Wines, a Houston liquor store chain founded by his father. Alcohol-related diseases and accidents are the nation's third leading cause of preventable deaths.18 In recent years, families that have been devastated by alcohol-related accidents have demanded greater accountability from venders for the foreseeable consequences of selling alcohol to drunks or to kids. Trabulsi, who owned a liquor store facing Lamar High School, fought a 1996 Houston City Council proposal to establish "alcohol-free zones" around schools.19

The booze industry's biggest TLR coup came with the 1995 enactment of severe limits on so-called joint and several liability laws. Under the revised law, individuals who knowingly sell alcohol to someone who is visibly drunk cannot be held responsible for the resulting damages unless a jury finds that they were at least 51 percent responsible. According to the Texas chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, this virtually eliminated the alcohol industry's liability for drunk drivers, since drivers almost always will be found to be more than 50 percent responsible for their destructive behavior. State bills backed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving to increase this industry's liability for selling alcohol to people who are visibly intoxicated never made it out of committee in 1997 and 1999. Trabulsi contributes money to the political action committee of the Texas Package Stores Association, an industry group that opposed one of these bills in 1997.20

Richard's Liquors also faces generic premises liabilities that require retailers to provide a safe environment for their employees and customers. Trabulsi himself led TLR's doomed 1997 push to radically rollback Texas' premises liability laws. Lawmakers balked when they learned that TLR's broad bill would protect everyone from slum lords who fail to invest in the security of their tenants to negligent nursing-home owners. "Don't let our lousy draftsmanship wreck the public policy interest here," Trabulsi begged fed-up members of the House Civil Practices Committee.21

Despite TLR's purported aversion to lawsuits, Richard's Liquors sued Walgreens in 1986 to enforce residency requirements that prevented that discount store from competing with Texas-based liquor stores-like the ones that Trabulsi owns.

9 The only larger PACs in 2000 were the state�s two major parties, the trial lawyers� Texas 2000 PAC and the Texas Association of Realtors.
10 �Slab O� Trouble,� Houston Press, June 27, 1996.
11 �David Weekley Homes to Contest $221,500 Fine,� Denver Post, June 13, 1996; OSHRC decision, Docket No. 96-0898, September 28, 2000.
12 For example, SB28 enacted in 1995 and the failed 1997 bills SB429 and HB1020.
13 �They Know Whereof They Speak,� Houston Post, April 12, 1995.
14 �Fatal Occupational Injuries in Texas, 1999,� Texas Workers� Compensation Commission, January 2000; �Texas Construction Workers Dying in Record Numbers,� Dallas Morning News, September 9, 2001.
15 �Punitive Damages Awarded in Construction,� Fort Worth Star-Telegram,� August 8, 2000; Tarrant County District Court 141, Case 141-170634-97.
16 State District Court 113, Case 9447831.
17 �Lawsuit Abuse Now Built Into System,� Balous Miller and Leo Linbeck, Jr., San Antonio Express-News, February 6, 1997. The bills, which failed, were SB 429 and HB 1020.
18 Alcohol comes after tobacco and cardio-vascular diseases linked to poor diet and exercise habits. See �Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics Source Book 1998,� U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
19 �Liquor Stores Charge Zones Unfair,� Houston Chronicle, April 17, 1996.
20 The Package Stores Association opposed H.B. 2679 in 1997. See also a similar 1999 bill: H.B. 1095.
21 �Slipping & Falling; Tort Reform Stumbling in 75th Session,� Texas Lawyer, April 14, 1997.
Copyright © 2001 Texans for Public Justice