published Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Nashville: Senate approves Haslam's plan to limit awards in civil damage lawsuits

NASHVILLE — Senators today approved Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to limit jury awards in civil damage lawsuits.

The 21-12 vote was largely along partisan lines and followed some four hours of often contentious debate.

It caps damages for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering at $750,000. In “catastrophic” cases such as severe burns or paralysis, the cap is $1 million.

House members passed the bill earlier this week, but the Senate version must go back to the House to deal with minor changes.

Republican proponents said the business-backed bill boosts job creation by promoting more predictability for companies.

“It’s the global economy,” Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, told colleagues.

Norris said lawmakers “on both sides of the aisle have railed all year long about the importance of jobs and economic competitiveness. What we’re discussing is legislation that’s designed to put us on a level playing field and, most importantly, it is designed to provide predictability and certainty for businesses.”

Democratic opponents, however, charged the bill substitutes the judgment of state lawmakers for that of juries and also rewards “bad actors” and swindlers like ponzi-scheme operator Bernie Madoff.

Juries, said Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, are a “way for citizens to play the most important role we have in our society” and serve as a “check on the abuses of power.

“Who better to make these decision in society? We do not allow the powerful ... and the rich to make these decisions but our juries,” Berke said.

Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belivere, later chastised colleagues, saying, they “put a price on the life of our children. They put a price on the life of our parents and grandchildren. They put a price on the life of the weak, the paralyzed, the neglected — all under the guise of economic development.”

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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ceeweed said...

Business as usual in Tennessee! We get what we deserve. Does anyone expect that our billionaire govna would be anything but hostile to the good people of Tennessee? Who the hell needs a jury system to decide civil cases? I feel so much better knowing that these sages in Nashville are doing my thinking for me. After all, we aren't to be trusted to sit on a jury and pass a fair and honest judgment in a civil matter.

May 13, 2011 at 12:28 a.m.
rolando said...

Next on the agenda [hopefully] is the limitation on class-action lawsuits.

Between the two actions, the shyster lawyers who drive up our prices for just about everything will leave for the Left Coast.

May 13, 2011 at 4:16 a.m.
ibshame said...

"In “catastrophic” cases such as severe burns or paralysis, the cap is $1 million."

Way to go Tennessee Legislators!! Hopefully none of you will ever have to care for someone who has been paralyzed for life as a result of someone else's negligence. That $1 million dollars will be gone in a flash but what do you care? After all this is what "attracts" corporations to Tennessee, Right?

May 13, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.
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