Attorney General Leslie Rutledge earlier approved a proposed constitutional amendment on limiting damages in medical injury lawsuits but changed a wholly partisan ballot title submitted by Dan Greenberg, a former legislator who heads a conservative advocacy organization.
He came back with another, broader proposal and Rutledge speedily gave it her OK — unlike the persnickety extended evaluations she tends to give proposal from the liberal end of the spectrum.
She did at least again remove a loaded word from the ballot title proposed by Greenberg (emphasis supplied):
The Lawsuit Reform Amendment of 2016: An Amendment to Limit Attorney Contingency Fees and Non-Economic Damages in Medical Lawsuits
Here's one of dozens if not thousands of examples you can find that explain why "reform" is a loaded word. From the Guardian:
The entry in our style guide is clear: "Reform: to change for the better; we should not take the initiators' use of the word at its face value." This is not a peculiar Guardian diktat – it is one of those entries that are there to remind our writers and editors of a common error in English. The Collins and Oxford dictionaries also leave no room for ambiguity on this point.
Rutledge approved this:
An Amendment to Limit Attorney Contingency Fees andNon-Economic Damages in Medical Lawsuits
This proposal is not meant to reform, or change for the better, circumstances for anybody but malpracticing and negligent nursing homes, doctors and hospitals. It will build into the organic law disincentives to lawsuits.
It is called putting a thumb on the scales of justice; or blocking the door to the courthouse — for example for elderly people horribly mistreated by nursing homes. See the woman left to die in abject misery at one of Michael Morton's nursing homes — a case that saw a judge admit to taking a bribe to reduce the damage verdict from $5 million to $1 million. What's a dying old lady's misery worth to a nursing home or legislator — not as much as $1 million, surely they calculate.
It limits attorney fees to 33.3 percent of the amount recovered after costs.
It empowers the legislature to set limits on non-economic damages, though no lower than a whopping $250,000. No breaks for age, where the injury could be enormous and the result of the most egregious conduct but lost wages might be negligible.
At other times, Rutledge has rejected ballot proposals because they didn't adequately explain the impact on existing law. No such objections here. No explanation that a potential $250,000 limit is against millions currently. Nor does it explain other potentially harmful outcomes such as the idea of the legislature getting into the business of deciding the appropriate charge for doing a legitimate business. What's next: A limit on car dealers' markups?
The nursing homes are definitely behind this — lobbyist Chase Dugger is working on it. Whether a broader coalition has been assembled will become apparent when a group files papers reporting expenses on the petition drive.
This measure, unlike Greenberg's first, doesn't specifically mention punitive damages. I have no idea if repeal is suggested by implication, but I believe it is is. Perhaps this is something else that Rutledge should require to be disclosed. Punitive damages can make bad actors do right, absent any meaningful risk from judgments on actual pain and suffering.
Some timely additional indictments in the Mike Maggio case might be useful in lawyers' opposition to this campaign — though lots of TV ads of the smirking Maggio couldn't hurt.
UPDATE: Video at top assesses change in Texas to a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. It hurt people.
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Today is the deadline for the Arkansas legislature to file joint resolutions — that is, legislatively referred amendments to the state constitution — and the Capitol is seeing a flurry of last-minute filings from members. /more/
Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) appeared on Talk Business this weekend to make her case for her bill improving transparency and access to campaign finance information. She also firmly argued against the so-called "tort reform" proposal to amend the constitution: "That's essentially the value of a human life. I am staunchly pro-life, and you're never going to find me putting a dollar value on a human life." /more/
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John Goodson — the Texarkana attorney, D.C. lobbyist, and husband of Arkansas State Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson — was reprimanded today by a federal judge for his conduct in a class-action case.
Tens of thousands of Arkansans have been kicked off of Medicaid for failure to respond to an income verification letter. Many of them are eligible for the program according to the very data that triggered the letter in the first place.
A photograph of a woman doing a headstand so you can see her red underpants. A sculpture by Robyn Horn titled "Approaching Collapse." Those and other works that assistant professor of photography Margo Duvall says "celebrates the female voice in art" for Women's History Month go on exhibit March 1 in the gallery in the Russell Fine Arts Building.
The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.
A tourism operator in the district of a senator who's sponsored a "bathroom bill" to discourage transgender use of public facilities has joined those objecting to the legislation as damaging to business.