Arkansas Pro-Life Leader: Issue 1 Puts a Price Tag on Human Life

April 18, 2018 | Posted in Tort Reform | By

Yesterday Arkansas Right to Life Executive Director Rose Mimms published an op-ed at TownHall.com regarding Issue 1 — a proposed constitutional amendment restricting noneconomic damages juries can award in lawsuits — writing,

Issue One would put an arbitrary cap of $500,000 on non-economic and caps punitive damages. In real life this means that if a 40 year old successful business man is killed negligently then his life could be worth millions because you could calculate his current earnings and multiply them out for the future. If a stay at home mom, a child or infant, a retired veteran, an individual with Down Syndrome or other genetic disorder who isn’t employed or a nursing home resident who dies as a result of abuse or someone else’s error or negligence then those lives are all capped at a value never to exceed $500,000. The jury simply can’t award a family more, even if it wanted to do so. Think of your loved ones, would you ever put a price tag on their lives?

Ultimately, Issue One says that some lives are more valuable than others. It says that your life’s value is determined by your what you earn at the time of a tragedy. It says that Arkansans on juries can’t hear the facts and award a family $1 million dollars for the abuse of their child who was left brain damaged or the neglect of their elderly mother in a nursing home. Issue One is one more step in devaluing life in a culture where we simply can’t afford any more slips down that slope.

Family Council Action Committee announced a few weeks ago that it would campaign against Issue 1, because the amendment puts a dollar value on human life.

We have written in the past about the unintended consequences of measures like Issue 1.

Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. As far back as 2003, we did not oppose general malpractice reform measures passed by the legislature. That same year, however, we did oppose a proposal that could have given an unfair advantage to nursing homes over good care for residents.

Some nursing home owners simply don’t want to spend the money necessary to provide quality care. They cut staff, reduce services, compromise care, and let people suffer. Most families have a story about a loved one who was neglected or mistreated in a nursing home. The fear of a lawsuit may be all that keeps some nursing homes in line. Issue 1 removes that threat. If that goes away, our elderly nursing home residents will suffer even more.

You can read  the entire op-ed by Rose Mimms here.

Photo Credit: By MediaPhoto.Org [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Come See This Free Movie

April 9, 2018 | Posted in Current Events, Tort Reform | By

The following announcement is from Family Council Action Committee.

AARP is showing a free movie that sheds light on lawsuit reforms like Issue 1, a proposed state constitutional amendment restricting the amount of money awarded in injury lawsuits.

Family Council Action Committee opposes Issue 1, because it puts a price tag on human life. The amendment caps noneconomic damages in cases of injury or death at $500,000. Under Issue 1, $500,000 might be the only penalty a preschool would face for leaving a child locked in a hot car on a summer day. $500,000 might be all a nursing home would pay for causing the death of an elderly grandmother.

Family Council Action Committee is teaming up with AARP to help Arkansans better understand the consequences of Issue 1.

AARP will show the movie Hot Coffee at different locations around the state from April to June.

Hot Coffee is an award-winning film that explains how lawsuits easily can be misunderstood. It also highlights the unintended consequences of lawsuit reforms.

After the movie, a licensed attorney will be available to answer questions and provide more information.

You are invited to come watch the movie free of charge; please RSVP in advance to let AARP know you intend to be there.

You can find movie dates, times, locations, and RSVP information below.

You can watch a preview for Hot Coffee here.

Russellville
April 12 – 3:30 to 5:00
Pope County Senior Activity Center
1010 N. Rochester Ave.
Russellville, AR 72801
RSVP for Free: https://aarp.cvent.com/HotCoffeeRussellville

Fort Smith
April 18 – 3:00 to 4:30
Fort Smith Library
3201 Rogers Ave
Fort Smith, AR 72903
RSVP for Free: https://aarp.cvent.com/FortSmithHotCoffee

Bella Vista
May 10 – 6:30 to 8:00
Riodan Hall – Bella Vista
3 Riodan Drive
Bella Vista, Arkansas 72715
RSVP for Free: https://aarp.cvent.com/BellaVistaHotCoffee

Little Rock
May 17 – 2:30 to 4:00
AARP Arkansas Office
1701 Centerview Dr. #205
Little Rock, AR 72211
RSVP for Free: https://aarp.cvent.com/LRHotCoffee5172018

June 28 – 6:00 to 7:30
AARP Arkansas Office
1701 Centerview Drive, #205
Little Rock, AR 72211
RSVP for Free: https://aarp.cvent.com/LRHotCoffee6282018

Hot Springs
May 22 – 2:00 to 3:30
Coronado Community Center
150 Ponderosa Lane
Hot Springs Village, AR 71909

Searcy
May 24 – 1:30 to 3:00
Searcy Public Library
113 East Pleasure
Searcy, AR 72143
RSVP for Free: https://aarp.cvent.com/SearcyHotCoffee

Fayetteville
May 29 – 6:00 to 7:30
Willard and Pat Walker Community Room
Fayetteville Public Library
401 W Mountain
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
RSVP for Free: https://aarp.cvent.com/FayettevilleHotCoffee

Photo Credit: By Petar Milošević [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Reports Show AR Nursing Homes High in Medication Errors

December 4, 2017 | Posted in Tort Reform | By

Yesterday the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette highlighted reports showing Arkansas’ nursing homes rank higher in medication errors than those in surrounding states.

Data from the federal government indicates significant medication errors are discovered on average in one of every five of the state’s nursing homes — with other errors possibly going undiscovered.

The article focused on Ms. Linda Cooper, who died suddenly in a Conway nursing home after a nurse mistakenly gave her another resident’s high-dose narcotics.

The Cooper family subsequently sued the facility and settled out of court. The newspaper writes,

The Cooper family’s lawsuit is the type that would be hampered by the passage of a constitutional amendment on tort reform that’s set to go before Arkansas voters on next year’s November ballot. The measure would cap punitive and noneconomic damages, as well as limit attorney’s contingency fees to one-third of the net amount awarded their client.

Tort reform has long been championed by the nursing home industry, and its staunchest opposition has come from plaintiffs’ attorneys.

A similar measure was to appear on the 2016 ballot until the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the ballot title contained unclear terms.

In support of that measure, Reliance Health Care in 2016 gave $173,140 to Health Care Access for Arkansans, a ballot question committee formed to advocate for the tort reform amendment’s passage.

The Arkansas Health Care Association, which receives monthly dues from nursing homes in the state, contributed $585,677 to the tort reform effort.

The proposed constitutional amendment the newspaper mentions is SJR 8. The Arkansas Legislature decided to refer SJR 8 to voters last spring.

Under current law, a jury hearing a personal-injury lawsuit reviews evidence, examines the facts, and awards damages to the injured party based on what they determine is appropriate. Some people believe juries award victims too much money, so SJR 8 restricts how much juries can award.

SJR 8 limits attorney’s fees in personal-injury lawsuits and lets the Arkansas Legislature cap noneconomic damages at half a million dollars for an injury or death. Under current law, there are no limits; juries award damages on a case-by-case basis.

SJR 8 also lets lawmakers make rules about evidence that can be used in personal-injury lawsuits.

We have written in the past about the unintended consequences of measures like SJR 8. 

Family Council has never opposed responsible lawsuit reforms. As far back as 2003, we did not oppose general malpractice reform measures passed by the legislature. That same year, however, we did oppose a proposal that could have given an unfair advantage to nursing homes over good care for residents.

Some nursing home owners simply don’t want to spend the money necessary to provide quality care. They cut staff, reduce services, compromise care, and let people suffer. Most families have a story about a loved one who was neglected or mistreated in a nursing home. The fear of a lawsuit may be all that keeps some nursing homes in line. SJR 8 removes that threat. If that goes away, our elderly nursing home residents will suffer even more.

You can read more about this story here.