Business Digest: Bill on storm lawsuits sent to Abbott


Bill on storm lawsuits sent to Abbott

A proposed law supporters say will curb baseless lawsuits against property insurance companies in the wake of “forces of nature” ranging from hailstorms to earthquakes and wildfires is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after the Texas Senate gave it final approval Wednesday on a 21-7 vote.

If Abbott signs House Bill 1774 into law as expected, it would take effect Sept. 1. The governor previously has called litigation stemming from hailstorm damage “the newest form of lawsuit abuse.”

The House approved the bill this month, with advocates saying it will rein in predatory attorneys who’ve been convincing property owners to file abusive claims. Among other measures, it would lower the penalties insurers face for denying or delaying claims later deemed to be valid, reduce insurers’ chances of being ordered to pay plaintiffs’ attorneys fees and protect agents from being sued individually.

But critics say the bill is an attempt to tip the scales toward insurance companies in disputes with homeowners and businesses over claims. They also note that it applies to damage caused by many different natural disasters, not just hailstorms.


Senate sends ‘Buy American’ bill to conference committee

The Texas Senate and House appear headed to a conference committee to work out differences over a proposed new “Buy American” law for iron and steel used in big state construction projects.

The two chambers differ mainly over a Senate amendment to the measure that would exempt water infrastructure projects financed under the voter-approved State Water Implementation Fund for Texas. Last week, the House approved a version of the proposed law – Senate Bill 1289 — that didn’t include the amendment, prompting the Senate on Wednesday to vote to request a conference committee.

Under the bill, Texas state government entities would be required to buy iron and steel from U.S. suppliers unless the price of doing so is more than 20 percent higher than the cost of imports. The state would be allowed to buy from a foreign company if U.S. supplies aren’t available for a specific project. An exemption also exists if compliance is deemed “inconsistent with the public interest” in individual cases.


Report: Alex Jones settles Chobani lawsuit

Austin-based radio host Alex Jones’ legal battle with yogurt maker Chobani has come to an end, according to reports.

The Los Angeles Times reports details of the settlement weren’t released, but included Jones offering up this public apology: “During the week of April 10, 2017, certain statements were made on the Infowars, Twitter feed and YouTube channel regarding Chobani, LLC that I now understand to be wrong. The Tweets and video have now been retracted, and will not be re-posted. On behalf of Infowars, I regret that we mischaricaturized Chobani, its employees and the people of Twin Falls, Idaho the way we did.”

Chobani sued Jones after he published a video under the headline “Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists.” Chobani, in its suit, said the post and related statements “caused and continue to cause harm to Idaho residents, including Chobani employees, their families and other members of the Twin Falls community.”


Apple, Qualcomm battle intensifies

SAN DIEGO — Manufacturers that build Apple’s iPhone and iPad are being drawn into the dispute between the tech giant and the chipmaker Qualcomm.

Qualcomm said that it has filed a breach of contract complaint against Apple manufacturers who it says have been pressured by Apple not to pay royalties to Qualcomm for technology that it says it owns. Qualcomm has filed suit against FIH Mobile Ltd. and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Pegatron Corp., Wistron Corp. and Compal Electronics Inc. It has filed a separate claim against Apple for interfering with the license agreements between Qualcomm and the manufacturers.

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