Below is a press release from our public policy partner, Family Council Action Committee, regarding a contribution it received exclusively for its campaign against Issue 1. As you may know, Family Council Action Committee is a separate organization from Family Council. We appreciate our friends across the state who are helping Family Council fight abortion, and do all the other good work we have always done. Contributions Family Council Action Committee receives to oppose Issue 1 do not help fund Family Council’s work fighting abortion, promoting religious liberty, defending marriage, or assisting home schoolers. Family Council needs your ongoing financial support to enable us to continue doing all the good work you have known us for over the past 30 years.
On Tuesday Family Council Action Committee announced it had received a gift of $75,000 from Little Rock attorneys Mike Rainwater and Bob Sexton to fight Issue One.
Family Council Action Committee Executive Director Jerry Cox said, “In March, we announced our Seven Point Plan for defeating Issue One. This donation helps us implement that plan. We plan to rally faith leaders, mobilize a statewide grassroots network, send direct mail, conduct speaking engagements, do media interviews, distribute voter’s guides, and get out the vote.”
Cox said the donation will help his group maximize its effectiveness in opposing Issue One. “This does not change our plan one bit, but it does enable us to do more of what we are already doing. We devised a seven point plan against Issue One that works with any amount of money. This gift will enable us to reach more people with the message that Issue One is bad tort reform that puts a dollar value on human life. As a pro-life organization we know that every human life is priceless.”
Mike Rainwater said, “As attorneys we believe Issue One is wrong for Arkansas for many reasons, but as Christians who believe in the importance of a Biblical worldview and as two men who are devoted to supporting efforts that align with and promote the Christian faith, we were especially touched and appreciative of the Family Council Action Committee’s work on this issue. As soon as we heard of their stance, we knew we had to be supportive.”
Cox said he has actively opposed proposals like Issue One for 15 years. “Family Council Action Committee has opposed this type of bad tort reform as far back as 2003. Over the past 30 years thousands of people have donated to our work. This is the latest in a long line of gifts from people who believe in our mission and want us to be successful.”
Cox said he wants to help Arkansans understand Issue One and its unintended consequences. “Issue One is a proposed state constitutional amendment referred to the ballot by the Arkansas General Assembly. If passed in November, it will change how injury lawsuits are handled by capping non-economic damages at $500,000, limiting attorney fees, and letting the legislature restrict the types of evidence that can be considered in injury lawsuits.
“Critics of the measure say it ties the hands of juries by limiting their ability to award damages for suffering in case of extreme abuse, neglect, or death in nursing homes and in other cases. Letting the legislature set the rules of evidence could create a situation where business interests persuade lawmakers to declare so much evidence off-limits that people who have been seriously injured or the family members of those who have been killed can’t muster enough admissible evidence to build a case against the perpetrator.”
Cox said his group has supported responsible tort reform measures and is ready to support new responsible measures, but believes Issue One simply goes too far. “There is good tort reform and there is bad tort reform. Issue One is bad tort reform, because it puts a dollar value on human life.”
Family Council Action Committee is a conservative 501(c) (4) organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The following is a press release from Family Council Action Committee. You can see video of Family Council Action Committee’s press conference here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 5, 2018
At a press conference on Monday, Family Council Action Committee formally announced its opposition to Issue One, a proposed constitutional amendment restricting the amount of money awarded in lawsuits.
Executive Director Jerry Cox released a statement saying, “We oppose Issue One because it puts a price tag on human life. Most people would agree that we should never put a value on human life unless the word ‘priceless’ is involved. Issue One not only puts a dollar value on human life, but a pretty low value at that—just $500,000.”
Cox explained how Issue One places a dollar value on human life. “Issue One is a being billed as a tort reform measure. Sadly, like too many things in politics today, what we’re told and what we will get are two very different things. Issue One limits noneconomic damages in lawsuits at $500,000 for injuries such as pain and suffering or mental anguish. That might be okay when you’re talking about people suing a restaurant because they spilled hot coffee on themselves, but it’s another thing when you’re talking about a grandmother who dies in a nursing home because the facility didn’t take care of her, or if a drunk driver paralyzes your child for life. If your grandmother dies because her nursing home was negligent, you can’t sue the facility for economic damages like lost wages because nursing home residents aren’t employed, which means under the law they have no “economic value” such as lost wages. Noneconomic damages are all they have. Issue One basically guarantees the nursing home won’t have to pay more than $500,000 if it is responsible for your grandma’s death.”
Cox said Issue One treats young children, elderly adults, and others who do not earn an income as if their lives are not as valuable as everyone else’s. “This amendment sets the going rate for people killed or injured due to the negligence of others. Retired husband or wife: $500,000. Homemaker with four young children, but no outside income: $500,000. Mentally-disabled child: $500,000. Family man on disability: $500,000. But wealthy wage earners are treated better. They could collect millions of dollars in economic damages because of projected future earnings and lost wages. “Currently, any resident of a long-term health care facility who is abused or neglected can take the case to court. This goes for all other injury lawsuits, as well. There, a jury of everyday Arkansans hears the facts of the case and then awards damages based on what they believe to be fair and just. This jury system is a guaranteed constitutional right enjoyed by every person. After all, everyone who needs it should have their day in court and expect justice. Issue One is an insult to justice. Issue One ties the hands of judges and juries by letting the State set an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all value of no more than $500,000 in noneconomic damages,” Cox said.
Cox said Issue One ultimately does not stop frivolous lawsuits. “The backers of this amendment could have written a proposal that focused on preventing lawyers from enriching themselves on frivolous lawsuits. They could have written an amendment that addressed some of the medical malpractice problems that good physicians face. Instead they wrote an amendment that puts a price tag on human life and leaves the door wide open for the nursing home industry to neglect our loved ones. Nursing home neglect already is too common, even with the threat of huge lawsuits. If Issue One passes, that problem is simply going to get worse.”
Family Council Action Committee Political Director Ken Yang rolled out a seven-point plan for defeating Issue One. The plan includes rallying faith leaders, mobilizing a statewide grassroots network, a direct mail and social media effort, conducting speaking engagements, earned media, voter’s guides, and a get-out-the-vote campaign.
Family Council Action Committee is a conservative 501(c)(4) organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas.