Tort Reform Off Ballot

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Voters will not vote on a proposed amendment to limit lawsuit damages but will vote on raising the state’s minimum wage after the Arkansas Supreme Court released two decisions Thursday.

The decisions came a week after the court ruled in favor of keeping on the ballot Issue 4, which will allow voters to decide on the fate of casinos in four locations. Still to come is a decision on an amendment that would limit legislative terms.

Regarding Issue 1, the so-called tort reform amendment, the court upheld 6-1 an earlier decision by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce that disqualified the measure from the ballot. Referred to voters by the Legislature, the proposal would have limited attorneys’ contingency fees to one-third of the net recovery; limited punitive damages to $500,000 or three times the compensatory damages unless harm was caused intentionally; and limited “non-economic damages” to $500,000. It also would have given the Legislature the ability to amend or repeal procedural rules prescribed by the Supreme Court for the Arkansas judiciary.   MORE

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