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Personal Injury

Candidate Cruz: Tort Reformer or Plaintiff’s Advocate?

March 24, 2016 | Michael Barasch

Now that Senator Ted Cruz has won the Iowa caucus, many who had written him off as unelectable are starting to wonder if his politicking might overcome an abundance of contradictions between his record and his meticulously crafted public persona. Mr. Cruz would like the electorate to view him as an unwavering champion of conservative principles, but those who choose to investigate his past, such as op-ed writer Elizabeth Williamson, may discover a skilled attorney willing to argue either side of an issue to advance his self-interest.

Writing in the New York Times on January 20, 2016, Ms. Williamson points to several items on Senator Cruz’s résumé:

  • As a staffer on George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, Mr. Cruz wrote a tort reform position paper, arguing for statutory limits on recoveries for injured plaintiffs.
  • As Texas State Solicitor in 2003, Mr. Cruz defended Texas tort reform laws, which impose the strictest limits in the country.
  • Post 2008, as an appellate lawyer, Mr. Cruz often represented corporate defendants in Texas. But, crossing the state line to New Mexico, he represented plaintiffs, even defending the largest personal injury award in the state’s history, $54 million, which a lower court had thrown out. Mr. Cruz’s argument was so “stunning in its persuasive power” that the defendant settled the case before the high court issued its opinion.
  • Cruz earned $1.6 million in 2011 and $1.7 million in 2012 for his appellate work.
  • Elected to the Senate in 2012, Mr. Cruz was a vocal proponent of tort reform – legislation intended to impose statutory limits on personal injury awards.

So, is Mr. Cruz an ardent supporter of tort reform or is he an opportunist using the issue to garner conservative support? This much is clear: he is a very capable lawyer. Attorney Carl Bettinger, who won the initial $54 million damage award that Mr. Cruz defended, said, “If Ted doesn’t become president, he’d be the first one I’d call to defend a large-dollar verdict.”

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