Press Release from the Tennessee Association for Justice, April 4, 2011:
Non-Economic Damages to be Capped in ALL Tennessee Civil Cases, Goes Further than Surrounding States
Nashville— As a guest on This Week with Bob Mueller, Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey misspoke by stating that HB 2008 only contained caps on punitive damages and that Tennessee was following the example of Texas who passed caps in 2003. Both of his statements are incorrect.
In fact, the current bill places a $750,000 cap on non-economic damages in all civil cases, going much further than Texas and other states surrounding Tennessee. Some states have no non-economic damage cap, others, including Texas, only limit non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Mississippi has a $1 million non-economic cap on all civil cases.
“This legislation caps non-economic damages in all tort cases including tractor-trailer accidents, incidents of nursing home neglect and product safety actions, not just medical malpractice,” stated Phillip Miller, President, Tennessee Association for Justice. “Unfortunately, if this bill passes, the matter will be taken out of the hands of Tennessee juries, regardless of the facts and no matter how grievous the injuries.”
Capped at $750,000 in HB 2008, non-economic damage awards compensate for real injuries and losses that are not easily measured by a dollar amount such as permanent disability, physical disfigurement, loss of a limb, loss of mobility, loss of the enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Caps on non-economic damages are unfair and discriminate against individuals who have little to no income, such as women or men who work inside the home, children, the disabled, and the elderly. Caps arbitrarily limit damages in cases where the injuries are the most severe and often where the conduct is the most reprehensible.
Punitive damages will be capped at two times the total of economic and non-economic damages, or $500,000, whichever is greater. A jury awards punitive damages to punish or deter wrongful conduct where the defendant has acted intentionally, recklessly or maliciously. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in Tennessee.
“We trust our fellow Tennesseans in the ballot box,” said Miller. “We should continue to trust them in the jury box.”
The Tennessee Association for Justice advocates for accountability and the constitutional rights of all citizens and works to protect civil justice in Tennessee.