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Texas Supreme Court holds that civil penalties sought by private litigants are subject to statutory limit on damages

May 20, 2016

The Texas Supreme Court concluded that a private recovery of civil penalties under the Texas Optometry Act is subject to Chapter 41 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Thus, civil penalties are considered exemplary damages, which are barred by Chapter 41.

U.S. Chamber urges Texas Supreme Court to enforce statutory limit on damages in civil penalties case

June 24, 2015

The U.S. Chamber filed an amicus brief in the Texas Supreme Court on a question certified from the Fifth Circuit on whether an award against Wal-Mart for allegedly violating the Texas Optometry Act (TOA) is a “civil penalty,” which would not be capped, or “damages,” which would be capped under a Texas tort reform that prohibits the recovery of exemplary damages “if damages other than nominal damages are awarded.” The brief argued that the plain language of the tort reform – found in Chapter 41 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code – bars plaintiffs’ recovery absent actual damages, and that the civil penalties sought by the plaintiffs are the type of exemplary damage prohibited by the tort reform. It warned that the plaintiffs’ bar should not be allowed to use civil penalties to circumvent statutory brakes on runaway verdicts.”

The U.S. Chamber filed this brief jointly with the Texas Association of Business.

Dale Wainwright and Jennifer Salim Richards of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP served as co-counsel for the Texas Association of Business with the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center in this case.

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