Tort reform — how many times have we heard those two words during the election process?
It is on the Arkansas November ballot as Issue 1.
A tort action is compensating wrongs and harm done by one party to another person, property or other protected interests — which would be physical injury or reputation damage under libel and slander laws.
Tort reform refers to proposed changes in the civil justice system that aim to reduce the ability of victims to bring litigation or to reduce damages they can receive. Tort reform advocates focus on personal injury common law rules in particular.
Issue 1 on the November ballot would limit attorneys’ contingency fees to 33 and one third percent three of net recovery. It would also limit awards of punitive damages and non-economic damage awards in civil actions and to make current adjustments to the limitations for inflation and deflation. The maximum limit of litigation would be set at $500,000.
Any changes to Issue 1 can be made by the Arkansas State Legislature with a three-fifths affirmative vote (60 percent) of each house.
The maximum limit of litigation can be increased with a two-thirds vote of the legislature (66 and sixty-six hundredths percent).
Voters need to consider carefully that the law will also, in essence, give the state legislature authority to set court rules for every court in Arkansas. Now, the Arkansas Supreme Court sets rules for the court system.
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