'Texas Monthly' Story Irks Tort Reform Group

Texans for Lawsuit Reform fighting mad at 'Texas Monthly' over tort reform story

Texans for Lawsuit Reform is fighting mad at Texas Monthly over its November feature on tort reform, headlined "Hurt? Injured? Need a Lawyer? Too Bad!" Authored by Executive Editor Mimi Swartz, the article focused on the potential impact of tort reform on ordinary people, which sent TLR into a rhetorical tizzy.

"As published, the article reflects little serious research and no serious analysis, but is long on bombast and wrong on the law, wrong on the facts and devoid of balance," according to the organization's 12-page diatribe against the magazine posted on its Web site. The group also charged that the magazine is a tool of plaintiff lawyers, noting the "154 pages of paid 'Super Lawyers' vanity advertising in the magazine's October issue."

"We expected a magazine like Texas Monthly to aim higher than republishing the disinformation of a special interest group whose direct stake in legislation ranges well into the hundreds of millions of dollars (or, in the case of its most opulent members, billions)," according to the group's statement.

The magazine has responded by acknowledging two errors, but otherwise is sticking by the story.

"What they are alleging is massive mistakes and it's not true," Editor Evan Smith said. In fact, many of the TLR's complaints focus on interpretations and nuances of the law, more than factual errors. "It's not a law review article," Smith said.

The magazine offered the group space in the magazine to respond, but refused to run TLR's lengthy manifesto. TLR came back with a shorter letter, but instead of attacking the article, the new submission was a "love letter to TLR," Smith says. To counter the group's accusations, the magazine posted an extensive point-by-point response to the TLR's statement online, tossing its own charges of bombast at the group.

"Sadly, TLR chose to direct most of its criticism toward minor matters, such as whether Swartz had described points of law to TLR's satisfaction, and to respond with bombast and indignation, rather than to engage in a discussion on the merits," according to the magazine's statement.

Of course, it is unlikely the group, which seeks to limit frivolous lawsuits, will attempt to sue, unless it has a heightened sense of irony. (A representative of the group did not return calls.) Smith says it is also unlikely the magazine will give TLR space in the next issue to respond to the response. "As far as I'm concerned it's over," he said.

For those a wee desperate for entertainment, the TLR's version of events can be found at www.tortreform.com and Texas Monthly's detailed response can be found at www.texasmonthly.com/csc/webextra.php.

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