Arkansas Issue 1 Caps Damages Awarded in Lawsuits


An issue on the November ballot could potentially put a limit on lawsuits.

Those in favor say it will block “frivolous” lawsuits, while those against believe it puts a price on human life. 

Issue 1 would create a constitutional amendment that would cap the amount of money awarded to a defendant for punitive and non-economic damages. 

How much money a person receives from a  lawsuit is currently left up to a jury, but this issue would cut out that process and have a set price. 

The Arkansas Medical Society is a supporter of tort reform and recently sent out a letter to its doctors asking for their monetary support to help it pass. 

They claim Issue 1 would help lower the number of malpractice filings and in turn lower healthcare costs. 

However, other organizations including Protect Arkansas Families say it’s not fair to put a set price on a persons life. 

Chad Gallagher represents the group and used the recent bridge collapse in Florida as an example. 

“If somebody took short cuts and they knowingly violated what they should have done and it cost some people their lives, if they were under this Issue 1 in Arkansas, then those lives would be worth 500,000 dollars. That’s it,” he said.  

Those against Issue 1 say the threat of a strong and expensive judgment is a deterrent for poor work. 

Those for the issue hope it will block attorneys from filing lawsuits to make money, as it would limit the amount of contingency fees a lawyer could receive. 

According to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, medical mistakes is the third leading cause of death in the United States. behind heart disease and cancer. 

Issue 1 will be on the November 2018 ballot. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.





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