Vote No on Tort Reform

February 9, 2017

The last couple weeks have provided no shortage of political activity over which to be outraged, and so I hesitate to pile on, but this is too important to ignore. I must ask you to please take the time to read this and, if you are willing, put a little of your outrage to use for the benefit of a group of Arkansans who, though they do not yet realize it, are on the brink of having a fundamental and necessary right permanently stripped: those who have suffered or will suffer catastrophic injuries due to the negligence or recklessness of others.

There is presently pending before the Arkansas State Senate something called Senate Joint Resolution 8, SJR 8 for short. SJR 8 is an example of what is known as “tort reform,” a term with which many of you may already be familiar. The overarching goal of tort reform is to save money for the institutions who promote and fund the nationwide tort reform agenda: insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, nursing homes, manufacturers of dangerous products, the tobacco industry, trucking companies, and other major industries and large corporations.

Broadly speaking, the money-saving is accomplished in three ways, by making it more difficult for people to file lawsuits, by making it more difficult to obtain a jury trial in personal injury actions, and by placing limits on the amounts of money people can recover in lawsuits.

This particular “tort reform” amendment to our state constitution currently pending before the state senate would cap non-economic damages at $250,000. What does that mean? Economic damages are things like medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages are things like pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and LOSS OF LIFE ITSELF.

Why is it a TERRIBLE thing to limit non-economic damages to $250,000? Think about it this way: Mom is a 36-year- old wife and mother. Mom has two kids, aged seven and four. She has been a stay-at- home mom since her oldest was born. She is driving north on a four-lane highway on her way to pick up the kids from school. An 18-wheel tractor-trailer, which lets say is owned and operated by Walmart, is heading south on the same highway at the same time. The driver of the Walmart truck has had a few beers at lunch about half an hour before. On top of that he didn’t sleep much the night before. He’s having trouble staying awake. He nods off just long enough to lose control and crosses the median at the exact same time Mom’s car is approaching. The truck crashes head-on into Mom. Mom is dead by the time paramedics arrive, her body unrecognizable. How much do Mom’s husband and two children get as compensation from Walmart for Mom’s horrific death? $250,000 or less. Mom was dead before medical services could be provided, so there are no medical bills. Mom didn’t work, so she has no lost wages. Her family gets $250,000 max. That’s it.

Replace Mom with a little girl, an infant, an elderly man, a disabled person, or any number of similarly situated Arkansans – SAME RESULT. Their lives are each worth a maximum of $250,000 if SJR 8 is successful.

To further put this amount into perspective, $250,000 is around the price of a three bedroom, two bathroom house with no major updates in midtown Little Rock. MY LOVED ONES’ LIVES are worth a lot more than the price of a modest house. And so are yours.

What can you do? Contact your state senator and urge them to vote NO on SJR 8. If you are unsure of what you should say, use these three simple sentences:

“My name is BLANK.”

“I live in the city of BLANK and I am one your constituents.”

“I strongly urge you to please vote NO on SJR 8. It devalues human life and makes us all less safe.”

The following is list of all the state senators, along with their phone numbers and email addresses. If you aren’t sure which senator is yours, please click here and enter your address:

[No need if yours is Senator Joyce Elliot or Senator Will Bond; they are already working hard against SJR 8.]

Arkansas State Senate:

Senator Bart Hester, R – Cave Springs (District 1)
479-531- 4176

Senator Jim Hendren, R – Gravette (District 2)
479-787- 6222

Senator Cecile Bledsoe, R – Rogers (District 3)
479-636- 2115

Senator Uvalde Lindsey, D – Fayetteville (District 4)
479-444- 6752

Senator Bryan King, R – Green Forest (District 5)
870-438- 4565

Senator Gary Stubblefield, R – Branch (District 6)
479-635- 4314

Senator Lance Eads, R – Springdale (District 7)
479-435- 5139

Senator Jake Files, R – Fort Smith (District 8)
479-648- 9216

Senator Terry Rice, R – Waldron (District 9)
479-637- 3100

Senator Larry Teague, D – Nashville (District 10)
870-845- 5303

Senator Jimmy Hickey, Jr, R – Texarkana (District 11)
903-824- 8861

Senator Bruce Maloch, D – Magnolia (District 12)
870-235- 7041

Senator Alan Clark, R – Lonsdale (District 13)
501-262- 3360

Senator Bill Sample, R – Hot Springs (District 14)
501-624- 3445

Senator David J. Sanders, R – Little Rock (District 15)
501-682- 6107

Senator Greg Standridge, R – Russellville (District 16)
479-968- 1562

Senator Scott Flippo, R – Bull Shoals (District 17)
870-421- 3420

Senator Missy Irvin, R – Mountain View (District 18)
870-269- 2703

Senator Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas (District 19)
870-378- 1434

Senator Blake Johnson, R – Corning (District 20)
870-323- 1766

Senator John Cooper, R-Jonesboro (District 21)
870-761- 0130

Senator David Wallace, R – Leachville (District 22)
870-919- 8046

Senator Ronald Caldwell, R – Wynne (District 23)
501-682- 6107

Senator Keith Ingram, D – West Memphis (District 24)
870-735- 9580

Senator Stephanie Flowers, D – Pine Bluff (District 25)
870-535- 1032

Senator Eddie Cheatham, D – Crossett (District 26)
870-364- 5659

Senator Trent Garner, R – El Dorado (District 27)
870-818- 9219

Senator Jonathan Dismang, R – Beebe (District 28)
501-766- 8220

Senator Eddie Joe Williams, R – Cabot (District 29)
501-286- 9366

Senator Linda Chesterfield, D – Little Rock (District 30)
501-888- 1859

Senator Joyce Elliott, D – Little Rock (District 31)
501-603- 9546

Senator Will Bond, D – Little Rock (District 32)
501-396- 5400

Senator Jeremy Hutchinson, R – Benton (District 33)
501-773- 3760

Senator Jane English, R – North Little Rock (District 34)
501-257- 7670

Senator Jason Rapert, R – Conway (District 35)
501-336- 0918