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TAJ: Both Non-Economic, Punitive Damages Capped in HB 2008

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.


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Press Releases

TAJ: Capping Lawsuit Damages Threatens Vulnerable Citizens

Press Release from the Tennessee Association for Justice, March 24, 2011:

Non-Economic Damage Caps Disproportionately Affect Children, Elderly and People with Disabilities

Nashville— Five year old Amanda Travis went to a Nashville surgery center for a routine tonsillectomy. She never returned home. During her stay nurses administered the wrong dosage of Demerol and Valium as well as the wrong type and dosage of IV fluids—four times the normal amount. Due to vomiting of blood and mucus caused by the medication error and an understaffed facility, Amanda suffered a loss of oxygen, and soon after was pronounced brain dead.

The surgery center altered Amanda’s medical records three times in an attempt to cover up the medical errors which caused her death. It was also revealed that her nurse-anesthetist had a history of drug abuse and later died from a drug overdose during another patient’s surgery.

Non-economic damage awards compensate for real injuries and losses that are not easily measured by a dollar amount like lost wages or medical bills. Losses like paralysis, disfigurement, or a child’s loss of a mother are more significant than medical bills or lost wages. 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, people with disabilities, 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.

“Since a five year old obviously has no source of income, non-economic damages provided the only recourse the Travis family had to hold those who were responsible for the senseless death of their little girl accountable,” stated Phillip Miller, President, Tennessee Association for Justice. “The government should not be legislating the price of someone’s life when their death unnecessarily occurs as a result of blatant medical negligence. A Tennessee jury, after hearing all the facts, should be trusted with determining the amount a negligent defendant should be responsible for when wrongful conduct takes the life of a little girl.”

Caps on non-economic damages means the lives of children, seniors, women and low wage earners who do not work outside the home are worth less than the lives of a businessmen. Entire classes of low–income or non-earners would be branded as being worth less than their wealthier counterparts. Without non-economic damage awards to these vulnerable citizens, care decreases and wrong doers are not properly held accountable for their negligence.

“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.

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Press Releases

Fred Thompson Joins State Lawyer Org’s Lobbying Arm

Press Release from the Tennessee Association for Justice (formerly the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association), Jan. 25, 2011:

Nashville—Former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson joins the Tennessee Association for Justice legislative team this session. Senator Thompson will assist TAJ in their efforts to ensure that Tennesseans maintain a full measure of justice in Tennessee courts.

“We are sworn to protect the Constitution and ensure citizens’ rights are protected from unreasonable government intrusion.” said TAJ President Phillip Miller. “Senator Thompson understands the importance of this issue and worked as an advocate throughout his career to protect civil justice.”

As a recognized Tennessean, Senator Thompson identifies with the citizens of this state and relates to their concerns and needs. He will play an integral part in guaranteeing that their rights are protected.

“We put our trust in Tennesseans at the ballot box, and we should continue to trust them in the jury box,” stated Randy Kinnard, TAJ Past President. “It is our hope Senator Thompson will help us convey this message so our citizens can continue to exercise their right to trial by jury.”

The Tennessee Association for Justice will continue working with Tennessee’s elected officials on both sides of the aisle. Fred Thompson knows that justice is a right for all Tennesseans and should not be a partisan issue.

The Tennessee Association for Justice advocates for accountability and the constitutional rights of all citizens and works to protect civil justice in Tennessee.

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