Tort reform, casino measure struck by Ark. Supreme Court

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Voters across NEA will see two less options to decide when they vote in November.

The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a proposed tort reform amendment limiting damages for medical lawsuits, particularly against nursing homes. While this amendment was challenged on several merits, it was struck down because of signature canvasser violations.

Several Jonesboro attorneys commented to NEA Report in favor of this amendment being shut down. Attorney Jared Woodard called it a “big win for the little guy and gal.” Attorney Mark Rees also was a strong opponent against the tort reform amendment.

“It’s terrible,” Rees said. “But a lot of people will say this is about trial lawyers. It’s not. It’s about the value of human life, and whether a jury should determine damages. It was an infringement on everyone’s 7th amendment right to jury trial. Nursing home owners do not want that.”

Rees said caps on damages, like this proposal would have set, hurt children, stay at home moms, the elderly and the poor.

“If any one of these folks were killed because of someone’s negligence, then this proposed amendment says their life is only worth $250,000,” Rees said. “How absurd is that?”

Also struck by the court was the proposed casino amendment, which would have allowed several casinos to open in areas closer to central Arkansas. Southland Casino in West Memphis is the only regional casino in Arkansas.

However, the Supreme Court did allow a medical marijuana proposal to remain on the November ballot. Voters will have the option to legalize the plant for medicinal purposes in the Natural State as many other states have already done – including several for recreational purposes.

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