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Transportation Brief: New Texas Law Paving the Way to Curbing Nuclear Verdicts

by Renea E. Hooper, Peter C. Morton

August 25, 2021

With “runaway” jury verdicts in trucking accident cases on the rise in recent years, a new law may give trucking companies some relief in one major venue. Effective September 1st, Texas law will provide defendants in these cases the right to a bifurcated trial. The first trial phase will be limited to a determination of liability for compensatory damages. Next, any liability for punitive damages will be determined in the second phase of the trial. Evidence of a defendant’s failure to comply with a regulation (like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations) may only be presented during the second phase with some exceptions. Several Texas jury verdicts have exceeded $100 million in recent years. The industry is hopeful and optimistic that this new law will combat the reptile theory, curb nuclear verdicts, and set an example for other jurisdictions.


Scopelitis’ Transportation Brief® is intended as a report to our clients and friends on developments affecting the transportation industry. The published material does not constitute an exhaustive legal study and should not be regarded or relied upon as individual legal advice or opinion.

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