Consumer Advocates and Lawmakers Disagree on House Bill Four - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/8/03

Consumer Advocates and Lawmakers Disagree on House Bill Four

Every month, NewsChannel 11 wraps up the list of recalled and dangerous products from unsafe food products to faulty engines. But if Texas House Bill Four passes through the Senate, the ability to find out about these products could decline dramatically. That's the claim, consumer watchdog group Texas Watch is making. Executive Director Dan Lambe says, "The last thing we want to do is make Texas a dumping ground for unsafe products and that's what this legislation would do."

Saul Parra of Plainview received a settlement from Ford Motor Company after a rollover accident killed his wife and daughter. His other daughter received serious brain injuries. So, he too is speaking out against House Bill Four. "I think the law should protect the consumers of all they buy. If the laws changes then we're going to have less protection. What we need is more protection." Lambe agrees. "House Bill Four is without question the most anti-consumer bills ever introduced in the Texas legislature."

Lubbock State Representative, Carl Isett voted yes to House Bill Four and here's why. "It is the most significant shift in public policy relative to dealing with rising insurance costs, medical malpractice and frivolous lawsuits. Because of outrageous settlements in the courts, the system has been out control and this is our first chance to bring it back into balance."

Texas Watch argues that House Bill Four prevents families affected by defected products, their dues in the courtroom. Lambe says, "Arguably a lot of families who lost loved ones or suffered serious injuries would have had no case against Firestone because Firestone met watered down safety standards we are closing the door on weeding out unsafe products and unsafe products from the marketplace."

Again, Isett says no, that's not the case. "The only thing we did was cap non-economic damages and that's where a lot of non-agreeable suits are coming from."

Texas Watch also opposes the bill because they feel consumers would not protected by price gouging or other unethical practices. Isett says businesses that deceive consumers will still be held accountable for their actions. Isett believes the Senate will pass a looser version of House Bill Four. He adds that Governor Perry is in support of the bill and will sign it when it reaches his desk.

For NewsChannel 11's Consumer Connection, I'm Sharon Maines.

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