TRALA-Supported Texas Optional Equip Legislation Passed By House & Senate
TRALA has learned that Texas HB 4218 has been passed by both the House and Senate. HB 4218 is the "optional equip" legislation that was introduced by Texas Judiciary House Chairman Jeff Leach.
Chairman Leach was educated and worked closely with both TRALA and member company Penske Truck Leasing regarding the growing threat from the trial bar with respect to the theory of optional equip or "failure to equip" which is a term used by trial lawyers.
The trial bar has been peddling the idea that even if a leased or rented vehicle has met every maintenance and safety requirement mandated by federal regulations, a lessor is liable or generally negligent if they did not equip the vehicle with the "best" possible safety equipment that the trial lawyers themselves decide. This theory has led to multiple TRALA members having to defend what a customer has asked for with respect to vehicle. Even if the customer wants to spec a truck without certain safety equipment, the trial bar has said that the lessor should overrule the lessee and require safety equipment that may not even work properly and that is not required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
TRALA testified on behalf of the industry in early April, arguing that without this legislation, more frivolous lawsuits would form in Texas and that insurance rates would continue to skyrocket and that small businesses would suffer. Penske Truck Leasing helped coordinate a lobbying plan that targeted state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and both chambers. In addition, TRALA, Penske, and the trial bar all met and negotiated a final solution following TRALA's testimony, which took the language out of an existing tort reform bill and placed the language into the product liability statute.
The House passed HB 4218 by a vote of 119-20 in early May. Today, May 17, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 31-0. It now moves to the governor's desk. There is no guarantee that Governor Abbott will sign the bill into law, but TRALA has no reason to believe he will not sign the legislation, and so we remain very optimistic that HB 4218 will become Texas law within the next several weeks.
You may view HB 4218 by clicking here.
If you have any questions regarding the optional equip legislation in Texas, please contact Jake Jacoby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 703-299-9120.