Passage of “Miscarriage of Justice Act” Amplifies The Need for Corporate Accountability in Tennessee
NASHVILLE, TN – April 7, 2011 – The attack on hardworking Tennesseans and their families continued yesterday when a piece of Governor Bill Haslam’s legislative package, the so-called “Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011,” passed the first hurdle on its way to becoming law.
The bill will place a $750,000 cap in most personal injury and health care malpractice lawsuits and would also limit punitive damages to twice the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. It passed in the House Judiciary Subcommittee and will be heard next in the full House Judiciary Committee.
“It should be called the “Miscarriage of Justice Act of 2011,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, “I don’t know how any legislator can look into the eyes of a victim’s family member and tell them how much they think their loved ones’ life is worth.”
Several studies point to the need for a civil justice system that is robust and can hold corporations accountable, instead of one that places arbitrary caps on potential damage awards:
- A Health and Human Services report released in March estimates that approximately “90 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. have at one time hired an individual with a criminal record.”
- The 2011 HealthGrades Clinical Excellence Research & Consulting report on trends in hospital quality and patient safety states that there were “79,670 patient deaths among patients who experienced one or more patient safety events.”
- The same report states that “nearly one million patient-safety incidents occurred among Medicare patients over the years 2006, 2007, 2008.”
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that there were 181,000 severe injuries attributable to medical negligence in 2003.
“It’s common knowledge that damage awards act as a deterrent and make large corporations think twice about repeating egregious acts that can lead to abuse, neglect, and death,” Mancini said, “This bill takes away the right of victims to have their day in court and the right of juries to hold accountable any responsible parties.”
Tennessee Citizen Action works in the public interest as Tennessee’s premier consumer rights organization. Our mission is to work tirelessly to improve the overall health, well-being, and quality of life for all people who live and work in Tennessee.