Unconstitutional Tort Reform as Proposed by Issue 4 (Needs To Go Down In Flames!) because it is a Killer For Arkansans
This issue could be coming up in other states, also!
Is your life worth ONLY $250,000.00?
Help protect your Constitutional right to a trial by jury!
Vote “No” on Issue 4!
The Missouri court ruled tort reform law unconstitutional jury tampering. The historic role of juries in the United States is to find facts and determine damages. In fact, the Supreme Courts in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas, and Washington have also declared their state damage caps unconstitutional.
The right to a trial by jury is a Constitutional right guaranteed by the 7th Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The 7th Amendment says:
"In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law."
The Arkansas Constitution contains an even broader right to a jury trial:
“The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and shall extend to all cases at law, without regard to the amount in controversy…” – Ark. Const. Art. 2, § 7.
"The Supreme Court shall prescribe the rules of pleading, practice and procedure for all courts; provided these rules shall not abridge, enlarge or modify any substantive right and shall preserve the right of trial by jury as declared in this Constitution." – Ark. Const. Amend. 80, § 3.
Tort reform is good for the insurance industry but bad for consumers.Follow the Money. Look at what major corporations are contributing to which politicians and who they are, in turn beating the “Drum for Tort Reform”. Victims of medical malpractice need not be victimized again by repressive Tort Reform. Again, we urge you to Vote “No” on Issue 4 in the November 2016 election.
“Tort Reform” is code for removing local control!
Heads up, voters! A group calling itself “Health Care Access for Arkansans” (don’t fall for this ludicrous name) which is largely financed by multi-millionaire nursing home magnate, Michael Morton, has proposed an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution solely for the purpose of eliminating accountability on the part of nursing homes and medical providers. The Amendment, which purports to provide better access to health care for Arkansans, actually does nothing more than taking away rights which protect Arkansans and which guarantee that wrongdoers are held accountable for their wrongdoing.
– Michael Morton –
Nursing Home bribery case details suspect judicial fundraising
We are mainly talking about nursing homes in this article because it looks like Mr. Michael Morton has had his hand in proposing this amendment to our Arkansas State Constitution so he can directly benefit from it.
The following link and picture are from the Arkansas Times. This is an excellent article by Benjamin Hardy which reveals the corruption that went into getting Issue 4 on the ballot. Thousands of dollars were spent largely by nursing homes and medical professionals to get Tort Reform on the ballot.
“Michael Morton is spending big on a proposed constitutional amendment that would help shield his nursing homes from lawsuits, even while fending off allegations that he bribed a circuit judge.”
‘The so-called tort reform measure is being bankrolled largely by nursing homes, including Morton's. In June alone, his companies directly contributed $135,000 to a committee formed to gather signatures for the proposal, and may have routed more through the Arkansas Health Care Association, the lobby group for the state's nursing homes. Filings at the Arkansas Ethics Commission show the "Health Care Access for Arkansans" committee spent just under $600,000 in May and June, almost all of which went to a Colorado-based company that hires professional canvassers to collect signatures from voters.”
Look who stands to benefit from this so-called Tort Reform. (You probably won’t.) It is the medical industries who benefit, not the person who is damaged.
This is what we found on the money spent to block a person’s access to trial by jury. We are investigating this issue further.
Health Care Access for Arkansans
Arkansas Health Care Association
Before proceeding, we must note that the vast majority of doctors and medical professionals in Arkansas are good people who are competent and well-versed in their profession and who care about their patients. In fact, a recent study showed that approximately 1% of active U.S. doctors accounted for nearly a third of all paid malpractice claims. Click_herefor an example. However, some medical providers, such as nursing homes owned by Michael Morton, devalue human life and believe that making large campaign contributions to judges, such as Faulkner County Circuit Judge (who is now a convicted felon for accepting bribes from Political Action Committees financed by Morton) is a much better means of controlling their accountability than providing the quality medical care that our elderly, many of whom are our family members, are promised and which they so dearly need and deserve. Only after Mr. Morton was caught in a scandal in which Judge Maggio was bribed to reduce a verdict against one of Morton’s corporations over nursing home negligence did Morton then put hundreds of thousands of dollars into backing a proposal that seeks to fool Arkansas residents into believing that taking away the rights of our elderly, our children, and the most vulnerable of Arkansans to obtain justice will provide better access to health care. What a farce!
The misleading ballot title of this grave proposal largely financed by Morton says that it’s:
“An amendment to the Arkansas constitution providing that the practice of contracting for or charging excessive contingency fees in the course of legal representation of any person seeking damages in an action for medical injury against a health-care provider is hereby prohibited; providing that an excessive medical-injury contingency fee is greater than thirty-three and one-third percent (33 1/3%) of the amount recovered; providing that, for the purposes of calculating the amount recovered, the figure that shall be used is the net sum recovered after deducting any disbursements or costs incurred in connection with prosecution or settlement of the medical-injury claim; providing that this limitation shall apply whether the recovery is by settlement, arbitration, or judgment; providing that this limitation shall apply regardless of the age or mental capacity of the plaintiff; providing that the prohibition of excessive medical-injury fees does not apply to workers’ compensation cases; providing that the General Assembly may enact legislation which enforces this prohibition, and that it may also enact legislation that determines the relative values of time payments or periodic payments and governs the consequences and penalties for attorneys who contract for or charge excessive medical-injury contingency fees; providing that the General Assembly shall enact a measure which specifies a maximum dollar amount for a non-economic damage award in any action for medical injury against a health-care provider, but that such a measure may never be smaller than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000); providing that the General Assembly may, after such enactment, amend it by a vote of two-thirds of each house, but that no such amendment may reduce the maximum dollar amount for a non-economic damage award in any action for medical injury against any health-care provider to less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000); providing that the Supreme Court shall adjust this figure for inflation or deflation on a biennial basis; and providing that this amendment does not supersede or amend the right to trial by jury.”
The devil is in the details, so don’t fall for this confusing wording!It is masquerading as good when it is actually evil! Dear reader, this proposal is nothing but a sham, hoping the general public will be duped into voting for their own demise!
Remember, MONEY TALKS, and we have already written about this deceptive issue several years ago. Click here to read a past article from Secure Arkansas.
Without attorneys to hold the few unscrupulous medical providers accountable, there will be no accountability, and medical providers will be free to hoard patients into their offices, treat them like cattle, and send them home with complete impunity because no lawyer will be there to protect the victims of such actions. And nursing homes will be free to disrespect our elderly, to refuse to provide quality medical care, and to allow the elderly to suffer and even die—all because there is a strict, severe, and unrealistic limit on accountability if Issue 4 passes.
We all value human life, and while we may be able to value cars, houses, and virtually all tangible merchandise that we buy every week, there isn’t a maximum price on the value of a human life. Yet, that is exactly what Morton’s proposal seeks to do. His proposal places that value at $250,000. Who believes that their parents, their children, their brothers or sisters, or other relatives (even YOU) are worth only a mere $250,000 as Morton’s proposal seeks?
Imaging that your parents or a family member are in a nursing home, treated with complete disrespect, and when not receiving medical care as promised that the relative develops bedsores. Despite requests of your relative to go to a hospital or to see a doctor, the requests are ignored… and ignored… and ignored. Ultimately, the family member dies an agonizing death.
You seek justice—just as anyone would—because you don’t want this to happen to anyone else and because the nursing home should be held accountable and punished… yet, a judge tells you that you can only collect $250,000 for the pain, suffering, and extreme emotional grief over the loss of your loved one. You are told that you can’t receive full justice. Instead, there is an artificially-placed limit on the amount that all family members (as a group) can receive—the $250,000 must be divided between all grieving relatives. There is clearly no deterrence for the multi-million-dollar corporation which owns the nursing home to do what is right, what was promised to your relative and to you, and what is required by law.
Or, imagine you are personally injured: you break a leg, and while in a rehabilitation center, you receive substandard treatment, which leads to a fall that causes spinal cord injury, or the substandard treatment leads to a stroke, and ultimately you become a quadriplegic with no ability to move. You can’t eat or drink but have to be fed by a feeding tube for the rest of your life. You are no longer able to drive, no longer able to move, no longer able to even dial the telephone to make a call. You are in pain every day, your family cries every time they come to see you, and a judge tells you that you can only receive $250,000 (because that’s what Morton’s proposal— Issue 4 —seeks) for your pain, suffering, and emotional harm. Oh, and by the way, your family receives nothing because $250,000 is the limit! Does anybody think that Michael Morton would believe that his well-being is worth a mere $250,000?
While those who harm our family members intentionally will be subject to God’s judgment, God’s gift of life is priceless. Morton’s group seeks to override the value that God places on our life, override the teachings of the Bible, and it values our lives at a mere $250,000.
Now, some might argue that there are runaway juries. But if you ask any lawyer in Arkansas, he or she will tell you that we don’t have them here because Arkansas people are intelligent. If anything, most lawyers—including those who are on both sides of the cases—will tell you that juries frequently undervalue the true harm caused to victims of negligence. And, if there is a jury that awards too much, there are checks and balances in place (as long as Mr. Morton isn’t able to bribe jurors) who handle cases if the jury awards too much money. While juries generally do not overvalue a case, it can happen once every five or ten years, and judges are there to make sure that if it happens, it is promptly rectified. That is what the courts are for.
But Morton’s proposal doesn’t allow for this process to occur. Instead, it implies that hard-working Arkansans are too stupid to understand how to fully compensate tort victims. It also assumes that judges are too stupid to figure out if a jury has awarded too much to a tort victim. It assumes that we Arkansans are just not smart enough to figure out how to award justice and compensate injustices. It is akin to saying that Morton can only charge residents of the nursing homes that he owns a fee of $25 or $50 per day. A much better proposal would be to limit Morton’s ability to charge exorbitant fees to nursing home residents (many of whom rely on state aid that we pay for just to survive). If someone was trying to limit Morton’s ability to receive full compensation for the services that are supposed to be provided at his nursing homes, we all know that he would be the first to complain about that injustice.
But under Morton’s proposal, the legislature can set the non-economic damage rates for people killed or injured due to even gross negligence of others. Husband or wife: $250,000. Homemaker with four young children: $250,000. A child: $250,000. Any family member: $250,000.
You can’t put a price tag on a human life! Yet, that is exactly what this proposed amendment does, or gives the legislature the right to do. It seeks to override the teachings which are in the Bible and currently in the Arkansas Constitution (and have been for more than a century).
Supporting our Constitutional Rights
We all support the Constitutional right – in both the Arkansas and United States Constitutions – of the freedom of religion. We support the right to free speech. We support the right to seek redress of our grievances against the government. We certainly support the right to keep and bear arms.
Yet the proposal to cap non-economic damages virtually eliminates the constitutional right to a jury trial, a right guaranteed in both the Arkansas and United States Constitutions. Michael Morton and his group offer no explanation as towhy the Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution (or the right to trial by jury in the Arkansas Constitution) is of less importance than the First or Second Amendments of the United States Constitution. His proposal stops a jury from doing its duty to assess the true damages, and it reduces whatever amount that a jury determines should be awarded for pain, suffering, emotional grief, and anything else that the legislature defines as non-economic damages, and allows that limit to be set at $250,000.
We recently learned about the son of a Kansas legislator who was killed through what appears to be gross negligence on the part of a water park. Click here for an example.. The child was a mere ten years old and was on a ride which required a certain amount of weight of riders inside. The waterpark allowed the child to ride even though the weight requirements apparently were not met. The child’s neck was broken or injured, and he died. His grief-stricken parents issued a statement speaking of the joy that the child brought to them, yet Kansas has a law that limits non-economic damages to $250,000. In that case, it appears that the waterpark will avoid being held fully accountable to the victim’s family for the pain and suffering caused by their actions. It is an insult to think that this ten-year old child’s life is worth only $250,000… and it is saddening that a jury cannot assess the full damages that are due to the grieving parents. After all, without full compensation by a jury, the waterpark has no incentive to prevent the problem from recurring. And here, unless medical providers like nursing homes are held fully accountable by giving juries the right to determine the true damages, then there is no incentive to do what is right and to provide proper medical care.
Many of us remember when, back in the 1970’s, Ford Motor Company decided that it was cheaper to pay damages assessed in lawsuits for the deaths of, or injuries to, people caused by the exploding Ford Pinto gas tank. This has been referred to as “deathmatch.” Without allowing juries to assess full damages, we will have the same problem here. Nursing homes, and some unscrupulous medical providers, will decide that taking away the right to a trial by jury (by placing ridiculously low caps or limits on damages that can be awarded) will make it cheaper to kill or injure people and pay damages… rather than providing quality medical care and performing the job they promised to perform. It will make it easier to be understaffed, to not call in doctors when needed, and to not provide medical care that is needed because only $250,000 can be awarded for pain, suffering, and emotional harm (if the legislature sets that limit), even though you or a relative die a painful, excruciating death.
The Golden Rule
We follow the principle of the Golden Rule: doing unto others as we want others to treat us. So, put yourself in a position of losing a family member or becoming crippled due to the gross negligence of a medical provider. Is your life, is your health, is your ability to be able to get around, is the life of your child or your parents or of any relative worth of mere arbitrary $250,000?
Don’t fall for the trickery in this proposal. This proposal isn’t going to make healthcare more accessible. Studies have shown that states that adopted these proposals have no decrease in the medical malpractice insurance rates charged to doctors. What the proposal does is to benefit Nursing Home Magnate Michael Morton and similar multi-million dollar corporations that own hospitals and nursing homes, yet it permits substandard medical care by limiting the amount of damages that can be awarded. If you want substandard medical care, if you want to protect multi-million dollar corporations, and to know that a medical provider can injure you or a family member with almost complete impunity, then vote for this proposal. But this type of nonsense is not conservative—it strictly limits personal responsibility and accountability. Arkansans know that this type of proposal is bad for the state and will create a slippery slope of future amendments in which no professional is held accountable for his or her wrongdoing.
Is that what we want?
*Vote “NO” on Issue 4 in the November 2016 election*
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