Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rutledge approves broader amendment on limiting medical lawsuits

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 5:44 PM


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.

In Greenberg's first run at this, Rutledge refused his laughable title on a proposal to cap actual and punitive damages "The Arkansas Health Care Protection Amendment." 

So now Greenberg is back And it is worse.

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (17)

Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-17 of 17

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • 'How to decimate a city' — a big freeway

    Reporting from around the U.S. continues to illustrate the folly of the Arkansas highway department and construction boosters like the chamber of commerce and Vice Mayor Lance Hines in advocating ever wider freeways through the heart of Little Rock. Syracuse, N.Y., is looking for a better way in a debate remarkably similar to the debate about widening Interstate 30 in Little Rock.
    • Nov 20, 2015
  • 'Million-Dollar Thursday': A visit to Sherwood's hot check court

    We take a visit to the weekly hot check court in Sherwood District Court, the subject of a recent civil rights lawsuit filed by ACLU Arkansas and others, who say the system there results in a modern-day debtor's prison
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015

Most Shared

  • Hutchinson lobbyist moves to Teacher Retirement System

    Rett Hatcher, director of legislative affairs for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has left the governor's staff to go to work Wednesday as deputy director of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
  • Monkey wrenches

    Junior is 17 now, and shows no interest in driving, or even taking the driving test. It's got his Old Man a little concerned, and not just because we're running a car service for one these days.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation