As a Lawyer Ted Cruz Defended Huge Jury Awards. As a Politician He Opposed Them

02/13/2015 // Hartford, CT, USA // cttriallawyers // Neil Ferstand // (press release)

By David Corn

Wed Feb. 11, 2015

As a politician, Ted Cruz, the junior Republican senator from Texas, has championed tort reform—the nationwide effort pushed by conservatives and business interests to restrict malpractice and other wrongful injury and death lawsuits, limiting how much a jury can award a harmed individual for pain and suffering and in punitive damages. When Cruz ran for Senate in 2012, his website declared he had defended a landmark pro-business tort reform law passed in Texas in 2003 that severely constrained the ability of consumers to sue medical professionals and nursing homes and to collect punitive damages in other cases. Cruz also boasted that when he had been a policy adviser on George W. Bush’s first presidential campaign he developed Bush’s pro-tort reform proposals. During the Senate race, the Texas Civil Justice League, a supporter of tort reform, enthusiastically endorsed Cruz. After becoming a senator, Cruz told the Austin Chamber of Commerce that Texas-style tort reform—which places a cap of $750,000 on punitive damages—ought to be a national law.

Yet, as a lawyer in private practice, Cruz—at least twice, in 2010 and 2011—worked on cases in New Mexico to secure $50 million-plus jury awards in tort cases prompted by corporate malfeasance. These are precisely the kind of jury awards that the tort reform Cruz has promoted would abolish. That is, Cruz the attorney, who sometimes billed clients $695 an hour, made money defending jury awards that Cruz the politician wanted to eliminate—and he did so at the same time he was running for Senate as a pro-tort-reform candidate.

The two cases Cruz worked on were gruesome. In 2004, Barbara Barber, an active 78-year-old resident at a ManorCare nursing home in Albuquerque, bled to death over the course of several days. Her daughter, Lori Keith, sued the Ohio-based ManorCare Inc., one of the largest for-profit operators of nursing homes in the nation, for wrongful death. At a 2007 trial, a nurse testified that Barber, after suffering days of internal bleeding, “should have been shipped to the hospital.” But she wasn’t. The nursing home was short-staffed at the time, and Barber did not receive the attention and medical care she required. Evidence at the trial indicated that after Barber died, staff at the nursing home removed her bloody linen and clothes and replaced them with clean bedding and clothes and did not inform Barber’s daughter or her doctor of the bloody scene that the staff had found. The trial also included evidence that Barber’s medical records were falsified following her death.

Read the full article originally published in Mother Jones.

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