Former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa explained on Twitter that one of the unintended consequences of the Texas abortion law is that it'll start an outbreak of frivolous lawsuits from those with deep pockets.
The law says that any person can sue another for "aiding" someone who gets an abortion. The example cable news has been giving all day is that an Uber driver who takes the patient to a clinic could be sued for $10,000. It could mean that an Uber driver begins asking those in their cars if they're pregnant or headed to get an abortion.
Rangappa explained that the law doesn't deal with the idea that false lawsuits could be filed. Essentially, an anti-choice organization could go after a doctor known for performing abortions with a slew of lawsuits. Even if the doctor can prove that no abortions were performed, the legal costs could, over time, bankrupt anyone.
"The law allows civil suits to be filed anywhere, and doesn't allow for a change of venue unless both parties agree -- so putative defendants may be [hauled] into court all over the state," she continued. "It doesn't allow a defendant to point out that the plaintiff has already unsuccessfully sued someone else on the same grounds; and if the defendant asks for injunctive relief and the claim is denied, then they can be held liable for the other party's attorney's fees."
She noted that the impact is that any doctor or abortion provider is now "legally exposed without even being able to mount a basic defense against a slew of private lawsuits."
The Supreme Court application tried to explain this, but the Court ignored the attempt to get an injunction.
Texas passed a law in 1995 that would apply sanctions for frivolous pleadings.
According to an organization demanding tort reform, those restrictions could now be used against the anti-abortion litigants.
In 1995, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 31, a new frivolous pleadings statute. The new statute provides that signing a pleading certifies to the best of the signer's knowledge that:
- the pleading is not being presented for any improper purpose, including to harass or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation;
- each legal contention is warranted by the law;
- each allegation about facts has evidentiary support; and
- each denial of a factual contention is warranted on the evidence.
The law was one pushed by conservative Republicans in an effort to punish trial lawyers, who are often Democratic donors. Ironically, that provision may now be able to punish right wing groups and individuals going on fishing expeditions to sue doctors.