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.
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.
Photo Credit: By MediaPhoto.Org [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
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.
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
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
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
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
May 22 – 2:00 to 3:30
Coronado Community Center
150 Ponderosa Lane
Hot Springs Village, AR 71909
May 24 – 1:30 to 3:00
Searcy Public Library
113 East Pleasure
Searcy, AR 72143
RSVP for Free: https://aarp.cvent.com/SearcyHotCoffee
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
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.