***Representatives, please VOTE NO on SJR 8 ***
Our plea is that you have mercy on the people of Arkansas.
We have been warning you about Tort Reform (Tort Control) legislation for quite some time, and SJR 8 is just the latest in an extended effort to burden the Arkansas public with ridiculous restrictions on the amount of money plaintiffs are able to receive in a lawsuit. Most of the legislators supporting tort reform (tort control) claim to be conservative, but that isn’t so. Tort Reform (Tort Control) is a progressive movement.
The following is the direct quote from the Constitution of the State Arkansas 1874 as it exists today. Read the information below and ask yourself: why are our legislators attempting to reduce and take away our rights? Why do our legislators want to rewrite our state constitution?
Constitution of the State Arkansas 1874
Article 2, § 7. Jury trial — Right to — Waiver — Civil cases — Nine jurors agreeing.
The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and shall extend to all cases at law, without regard to the amount in controversy; but a jury trial may be waived by the parties in all cases in the manner prescribed by law; and in all jury trials in civil cases, where as many as nine of the jurors agree upon a verdict, the verdict so agreed upon shall be returned as the verdict of such jury, provided, however, that where a verdict is returned by less than twelve jurors all the jurors consenting to such verdict shall sign the same. [As amended by Const. Amend. 16.]
Article 2, § 13. Redress of wrongs.
Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries or wrongs he may receive in his person, property or character; he ought to obtain justice freely, and without purchase; completely, and without denial; promptly and without delay; conformably to the laws.
Article 2, § 21. Life, liberty and property — Banishment prohibited.
No person shall be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized of his estate, freehold, liberties or privileges; or outlawed, or in any manner destroyed, or deprived of his life, liberty or property; except by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land; nor shall any person, under any circumstances, be exiled from the State.
Article 5, § 32. Workmen’s Compensation Laws — Actions for personal injuries.
The General Assembly shall have power to enact laws prescribing the amount of compensation to be paid by employers for injuries to or death of employees, and to whom said payment shall be made. It shall have power to provide the means, methods, and forum for adjudicating claims arising under said laws, and for securing payment of same. Provided, that otherwise no law shall be enacted limiting the amount to be recovered for injuries resulting in death or for injuries to persons or property; and in case of death from such injuries the right of action shall survive, and the General Assembly shall prescribe for whose benefit such action shall be prosecuted. [As amended by Const. Amend. 26.]
History of a power grab and property rights: Back in 1874, there was a power grab by the railroads during their expansion across this nation. Legislators in many of the states were being duped into granting immunity for the property damage the railroads were causing and also capping/ limiting damages (what the railroad had to pay to the people). The framers of our Arkansas Constitution had the foresight to keep special interests out of the right to a trial by jury in civil cases. Let’s make sure it stays that way! Legislators, VOTE NO on SJR 8! Article 5, Section 32 was intended to protect both property and life. This protection will disappear if SJR 8 is passed during this legislative session! SJR 8 applies to civil cases and not just torts. Secure Arkansas is concerned that if Koch pipeline or Big Oil wants to continue to build their new pipeline, for instance, they will lobby to put a cap on property damage and property values. Yes, our own personal property could be affected, too!
Here is a snippet from Arkansas from the above link:
Arkansas – Broussard v. St. Edward Mercy Health System, 386 S.W.3d 385 (2012) (requirement that expert witnesses in medical liability lawsuits be the same specialty as defendant doctors violates the separation of powers doctrine); Bayer CropScience LP v. Schafer, 2011 Ark. 518 (punitive damages cap of greater of $250,000 or three times compensatory damages, not to exceed $1 million, is unconstitutional as it limits the amount of recovery outside the employment relationship). Johnson v. Rockwell Automation, Inc., 308 S.W.3d 135 (Ark. 2009) (nonparty-fault and medical-costs provisions of the 2003 Civil Justice Reform Act violate separation of powers under State Constitution); Summerville v. Thrower, 253 S.W.3d 415 (Ark. 2007) (statutory requirement of dismissing medical malpractice action for failure to timely submit reasonable cause affidavit is unconstitutional).
Click here to read the Arkansas Democrat Gazette article from February, 25, 2017 entitled: “House debates edits to tort-caps proposal”. If you’re unable to view it online, it’s on the front page of the printed version as well.
This was the message attorney Joey McCutchen’s posted his Facebook page yesterday, February 25th, 2017 about discussion on the House floor Friday, February 24, 2017 regarding the bill:
As Representative Jimmy Gazaway states in the video on the House Floor on Friday, there is a reason that SJR 8, which takes away the poor among us 142 years of Right to Trial by Jury for catastrophically injured, is being RAILROADED. The “Powers That Be” and the Little Rock Lobbyists know SJR 8 cannot withstand the light of day. It is based on deceit, lies and false statistics. It was drafted by lobbyists for Michael Morton’s Nursing Homes and Walmart. It is nothing more than creating a “rigged” jury system like the “rigged” process playing out at the Capitol. “We the people” got 15 minutes of Testimony in Senate State Agencies. “We the People” got 10 minutes “limited debate” in the House committee. That’s a railroad running over Art 2 Section 7, INVIOLATE Rt to Trial by Jury! It wrong and immoral to the weakest among us- children, stay-at-homes and the elderly…
Here are attorney Joey McCutchen’s comments about Rep. Josh Miller’s statements about SJR 8:
Another hero standing up for our RIGHTS at the legislature against SJR 8 was Representative Josh Miller, who is paralyzed. He understands that putting a one-size-fits-all $500,000 cap is not only anti-Bill of Rights but will reward irresponsible behavior and encourage reckless behavior in Arkansas. Please take the time to listen to Rep Miller who places people over Walmart’s and Michael Morton’s profits.
Arkansans, we need to thank Representative Miller for standing up for the rights of the people rather than the lobbyists and big business!
From another one of attorney Joey McCutchen’s Facebook posts:
A big thanks to Representative Jimmy Gazaway who yesterday stood up for the rights of the vulnerable and not Walmart and Michael Morton’s lobbyists. Most importantly, he stood up for our Arkansas Constitution ( Art 2, Section 7, 13 ,21 and Article 5, Section 32). One size-fits-all justice set by legislators and lobbyists is wrong and unconstitutional and is not “local control” as so-called conservative politicians are fond of talking about during campaigns. It’s time that politicians walk the walk when they get to Little Rock.
SJR 8 is anti-Life, anti-constitution and anti- conservative. Follow the money all the way to Big Insurance’s bottom line at the expense of the vulnerable.
Here’s one last Facebook post from Mr. McCutchen:
Have you ever heard the song “I’m your Puppet.” Well, it’s playing out at the Capitol when Big Insurance and their hired-gun lobbyists trample on our rights and take away our meaningful Right to Trial By Jury in the name of “improving the economy.” Yesterday, 142 years of a meaning Right to Trial by Jury ( Art 5 Sec 32) was undone, get this, on a Motion to limit debate to 10 minutes per side. No transparency. No openness.
The system is rigged and now Big Insurance ( and Michael Morton) wants to rig the Jury trial to one size fits all justice so they win every time at the expense of children, stay at home moms and nursing home residents.
How about this novel idea : lower the corporate tax rate and tax rate on the people and our state and economy will prosper! We Everyday Arkies are smarter than the Elitists give us credit for.
SJR 8 is bad for our kids, our parents and us.
Secure Arkansas really appreciates these Facebook posts.
ACTION: Call and email the Representatives listed below, and tell them to VOTE NO on SJR 8. It would place very restrictive caps on damages (how much an injured person can receive after winning a lawsuit). This bill will also unnecessarily restrict the power of the jury in favor of the lobbyists and big business.
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Securing the blessings of liberty,
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