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Is it True that Nothing Strengthens Prior Legal Authority so Much as Remedial Legislative Silence?

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The Case:

Nabors Wells Servs. v. Romero, 408 S.W.3d 39 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2013 pet. granted).

Update:

Back in March of this year, we blogged about the issue of seatbelt use in Texas. You can see the previous blog post at: http://www.thebassettfirm.com/blog/2014/03/click-it-or-well-we-dont-know-yet.shtml. Tomorrow at Texas Tech University the Texas Supreme Court will hear oral argument on this issue.

Why this is Important:

Subsection (g) of Section 545.413 of the Texas Transportation Code previously provided, in part, that "[u]se or nonuse of a safety belt is not admissible evidence in a civil trial . . . ." This was removed by the Texas Legislature as part the Texas Tort Reform Legislation.

In the underlying case, the El Paso Court of Appeals held that the Texas Legislature's silence when repealing Section 545.413(g) of the Texas Transportation Code meant that the prior case law upon which that statute was based was still controlling. Stated differently, evidence of non-use of a seatbelt was still inadmissible in cases that did not address products liability.

We will soon know whether the Texas Supreme Court agrees with this position in light of the Texas Legislature's statement when removing subsection (g) that the prior law was only applicable to cases filed before July 1, 2003. If the Court agrees, seatbelt usage will remain inadmissible except in products liability cases. If not, seatbelt usage will be admissible in matters outside of product liability cases, such as commercial auto accident cases.

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