TN State Senator Mike Faulk: Tort reform bill defies principles of justice
In a guest op-ed, Tennessee State Senator and attorney Mike Faulk explains why caps on damages (like those proposed in Governor Bill Haslam‘s legislative package) are antithetical to our system of justice:
The legislature is being asked to limit responsibility in tort cases to no more than the amount of the cap. That’s like asking the legislature to limit the length of all criminal sentences to a certain number of years — no matter how awful the crime….
Even where a jury has heard all the facts, deliberated on how much harm has been done, and reached a unanimous verdict on the amount of general damages for which a wrongdoer is responsible, the legislature will be inserting itself into every jury room. These limits will apply to claims the legislature has never heard nor will ever hear.
In criminal cases, we let juries decide whether a man should die for his wrongdoing, the ultimate payback for lack of personal responsibility. Yet, in civil cases, substituted for the collective wisdom of a jury will be a government edict on the maximum amount of monetary harm for which a wrongdoer will be held responsible. Conservatives must somehow reconcile this with the Tennessee Constitution, which says: “That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate ….”
The Governor’s caps on damages bill, HB2008, will be heard in both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees today. House at 10:00 am and Senate at 3:30 pm. Please call AND email the members of the House & Senate Judiciary committees now and ask them to vote “NO” on HB 2008. Messages to committee members are here.