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Tennessee Tort Reform Unconstitutional

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The proposed legislation in the State of Tennessee capping a jury verdict is unconstitutional in both our Federal and State Constitutions. Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers founded this nation with the right to a trial by jury of our peers on all issues, not just the issues that high-paid lobbyists or special interest groups will allow us to have.

Any capping of non-economic or punitive damages is unconstitutional, unjust, and unfair. The proposed cap on punitive damages, aside from being unconstitutional, is outrageous. I have noticed billboards through the Nashville area which state “Stop lawsuit abuse” attempting to promote this tort reform agenda. If you follow the money, the funding for these tort reform initiatives comes from BIG companies (Tobacco, Oil, Auto Manufacturers, Insurance and Financial Service Institutions). These corporate entities are attempting to bribe the legislature.

Examples of why we need punitive damages that are determined by the jury are the famous Ford Pinto cases. This involved a manufacturer who knew the Ford Pintos were defective and could and would explode burning innocent people alive but Ford had done the statistical math to know exactly how many people would be burned alive and perish as a result of this product defect. Ford then determined that many people would not sue and that the few that actually sought their lawyers and made it to court and did eventually prevail at trial would not cost them as much as a recall. Therefore, Ford decided it was more cost effective to pay off the few families that did bring a lawsuit rather than do the right thing and recall this dangerous product preventing thousands of people, (mothers, fathers, children, and grandparents) from burning alive.

Punitive damages are in place to protect society from this type of egregious conduct. The people attempting to cap punitive damages are these corporate entities who are spending billions of dollars on their propaganda to cap punitive damages and want to be able to make economic decisions to kill and maim innocent people in the name of profit without paying the consequences. Our forefathers knew that punitive damages would be necessary to protect and prevent harm to our population.

We all know we should be entitled to buy a vehicle free of defect so that it doesn’t explode as in the Ford Pinto case. We also do not want polluters to be able to poison our water supply with mercury and lead, etc., as a business and economic decision because there is no threat of punitive damages. Punitive damages are rare in Tennessee but when they are awarded, they keep us all safer.

The current legislature is socialistic in nature pure and simple. Socialism would tell us how much we can pay for a meal at a restaurant. If a restaurant meal is capped at no more than $5.00, we all know that would be absurd and socialism. Socialism would tell you how much you can pay for a car, e.g. $9,000.00, and no more than that amount . We would all agree that is socialism and absurd.

The legislation being proposed would tell us that the life of a child or a mother or a grandparent is only worth $750,000.00 regardless of the facts of the case. This is Socialism!

The Prophet, Amos, spoke of the evil and wickedness of the wealthy attempting to close the courthouse doors to the poor. This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to close the courthouse doors when people are significantly harmed by wrongdoers. This is unjust, unfair and wicked and must not be supported.

The only caps necessary are to cap the fees of the high paid lobbyists and campaign contributions of the wrongdoers funding these pursuits in the name of greed, big tobacco, oil (BP included), pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and financial institutions (remember Enron).

If one looks to the facts regarding litigation in the State of Tennessee, the jury awards in this state are very conservative and punitive damages are reserved for only cases involving the most egregious conduct.

As it relates to non-economic damages, we do not hear about the majority of Plaintiffs who do not have a significant recovery but only those very rare Plaintiffs in this state with large awards.

This proposed legislation capping damages is as ridiculous as stating there should be a minimum award for every case filed regardless of the facts.

This unconstitutional, socialistic legislation must be stopped because our constitution was established to “. . .promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” and not just protect the interest of BIG tobacco, oil, pharmaceutical, insurance companies and big financial service institutions.

We as a society do not want more exploding cars (Ford Pinto), mercury laced, polluted water (BP), or financial service wrongdoers (Enron) to get a free ride. Without the protection and checks and balances provided by our Federal and State Constitutions, these entities are able to buy legislation through lobbyist and campaign donations which is an absolute outrage.

The prophet Amos spoke of the wickedness of shutting the courthouse doors to the citizens by the wealthy and that is exactly what is being proposed in these “Tort Reform” bills.

The current legislature has lost touch with reality and have forgotten from whence they came.

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