SB 735

84(R) - 2015
Senate State Affairs
Senate State Affairs
Civil Justice

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral


Troy Fraser

Bill Caption

Relating to discovery of evidence of the net worth of a defendant in connection with a claim for exemplary damages.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication anticipated.

Bill Analysis

SB 735 would amend code to remove a defendant's net worth from the list of factors the jury shall consider determining exemplary damages and establish that an individual's wealth is not relevant for supporting a claim for exemplary damages or calculating the amount. This would authorize a trial court to, only after the court has found a written order from the claimant demonstrating a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of claim for exemplary damages, to authorize discovery of a defendant's net worth.

Vote Recommendation Notes

05/20/2015 update:

We support SB 735 in the second chamber. The second  chamber sponsor is Representative Ken King.

First chamber recommendation:

SB 735 affirms the principle of limited government. A proper role of government is to provide for a just legal system and uphold policies that promote those aims. The Texas Supreme Court case, Lunsford v. Morris, has allowed for the discovery and use of a defendant's net worth for exemplary (punitive) damages, however, this has caused contentious an invasive pretrial litigation in an attempt to discover this. Texas, however, now has a cap on the amount of punitive damages that is correlated to the injury caused, not the net worth of the defendant, making this pretrial discovery of net worth unnecessary and therefore, causing unnecessary invasions of privacy. The depth of the injury caused, not  how much a defendant is worth, should decide the amount of punitive damages, if any are needed. 

SB 735 supports the goal of a more just legal system and not one that operates on gamesmanship, therefore we support this legislation.