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Are Tennessee Tort Reform Laws Constitutional?

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In 2012, we discussed how tort reform efforts in Tennessee were restricting the amount of money companies would pay individuals injured by products or services. Sadly, this severely hurts injury victims who are seeking compensation for items like funeral costs, medical expenses and lost wages.

Keep in mind, due to the Civil Justice Act of 2011, caps for noneconomic damages were enacted in Tennessee, including:

  • A $750,000 cap per victim on “noneconomic damages” (physical and emotional pain, humiliation, physical impairment, disfigurement, injury to reputation)
  • A $1 million cap on “catastrophic loss or injury” (spinal cord injury, amputation, severe burns, wrongful death)

We bring this up because recently a Hamilton County circuit court judge ruled that the $750,000 cap on certain civil jury awards is unconstitutional, which may lead to a state Supreme Court review on current tort laws.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Presson March 9, Judge W. Neil Thomas ruled in a Hamilton County Circuit Court that the state does not have a constitutional right to cap noneconomic damages paid to victims.

Thomas reportedly said the decision for damages should be left to juries. “The sole thrust of the legislation is not to change the law of responsibility between individuals but to limit, and, therefore, express distrust of, juries and their verdicts,” Thomas wrote in an opinion.


We are pleased with this development. By capping the amount of money that can be awarded to a victim, you are severely limiting how they can move forward following an injury accident. Imagine losing your loved one to a fatal car accident that was a manufacturer’s fault due to defective parts—would $750,000 be enough to repay you for what you lost?

If you have suffered due to another party’s mistake, do not let Tennessee tort reform laws stop you from seeking justice. For more information about how Stan Davis has successfully represented injury victims, visit our verdicts and settlements page.

We will keep you posted on tort reform efforts going forward in Tennessee.

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” – John 3:17


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