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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Judge Rules Tennessee’s Cap on Non-Economic Damages Unconstitutional

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Last week, a Tennessee judge ruled that the state’s $750,000 cap on non-economic injury damages is unconstitutional. The decision resulted from an auto accident case in which the plaintiffs sought $22.5 million for pain and suffering damages. When the defendant (AT&T) argued that the amount exceeded the cap, Judge W. Neil Thomas ruled that by the capping non-economic damages, the laws violated the fundamental rights to a trial by jury. He said there was no justification for passing the law; there are no studies showing that excessive damages impact economic development. “There can simply be no compelling state interest to which the right to a jury trial may yield, especially if that compelling interest is declared to be merely an economic interest,” Thomas wrote. The ruling will most likely to be appealed, forcing the Tennessee Court of Appeals and possibly the Tennessee Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of Tennessee’s Tort Reform.

Legislative caps impair a citizen’s right to a fair and impartial jury trial. These caps limit the accountability of the wrongdoer and shifts the cost of that wrongdoing from the wrongdoer to the taxpayers. Placing an arbitrary cap on someone’s pain and suffering acts as a disincentive to improve safety or provide safety measures in the first instance. Profits are king to corporations; safety takes a second seat.  If profits are affected, safety becomes more important. What is more important to you-protecting corporate profits or protecting your loved ones and improving safety?

Tennessee citizens owe Judge Wilson a huge “thank you.” Let’s hope the Tennessee Court of Appeals agrees with his rationale. It is time to take back our civil justice system from corporate special interests and the phoney “lawsuit abuse” lobbyists who support tort reform.

You can read Judge Wilson’s full decision here.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.