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H.J.R. 3 - A Constitutional Amendment authorizing the Legislature to limit noneconomic damages

  • Added Sec. 66 to Art. III, Texas Constitution
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SPECIAL NOTE: This report is also available as a free bonus for purchasers of our Legislative History of H.B. 4, the Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act of 2003. Click here for details.


House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR 3) was a constitutional amendment passed by the Legislature in 2003 and submitted to the voters authorizing the Legislature to set limits on noneconomic damage awards in med-mal and other lawsuits.

This resolution was considered alongside House Bill 4, the Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act of 2003. (See the Legislative History of H.B. 4.)

Our report on the legislative history of H.J.R. 3 begins with an abstract that recaps the important legislative points of the bill. The comprehensive background section will follow the bill through the entire legislative process and will include the filing of the resolution, the House and Senate committee hearings and floor debtes, committee amendments, and bill analyses. The appendix includes transcripts from the committee hearings and floor debates and documents relevant to H.J.R. 3: all versions of the bill, the bill analyses, and the House and Senate Journals.

The Senate Research Center summarized House Joint Resolution 3 as follows:

In 1977 the 65th Texas Legislature passed the Medical Liability and Insurance Improvement Act of Texas to cover health care liability claims. The Act contained a $500,000-cap on all damages except medical expenses for health care liability claims. In 1988, in Lucas v. United States, 757 S.W.2d 687 (Tex. 1988), the Texas Supreme Court held that the limitation on damages was unconstitutional as applied to common law causes of action but constitutional as applied to statutory causes of action. The Lucas court held that the statutory limitation on medical malpractice damages was unconstitutional as applied to common law causes of action because it violated the "open courts provision."

H.J.R. 3 requires the submission to the voters of a constitutional amendment authorizing the
legislature to determine limits for non-economic damages in medical or health care liability claims and other actions.

HJR 3 was submitted to the voters of Texas on September 13, 2003. It was number 12 of 22 constitutional amendment propositions on the ballot. Proposition 12 was approved by 51% of the voters on a vote of 751,896 in favor and 718,547 against.