Issue 1 is a constitutional amendment that will appear on the Arkansas general election ballot in November of 2018.
Issue 1 will help put Arkansas on a level playing field with states that surround Arkansas when we compete to grow jobs or recruit doctors to care for our loved ones. Results in Texas and other states have shown that lawsuit reform is a critical ingredient that puts Arkansas at a competitive disadvantage.
Issue 1 is not only a measure to help Arkansas grow but also protects victims and their families. Issue 1 does not cap economic compensatory damages so that a victim of an accident is able to be fully compensated for 100% of actual economic losses past, present and future and provides reasonable caps on other damages that start at a combined $1 million.
Issue 1 also protects victims from being lured into predatory contingency fee contracts by capping lawyer contingency fees at 33.3% of the victim’s net settlement.
The Arkansas constitution protects our state from predatory payday lenders and Issue 1 will provide constitutional protection from predatory contingency fees that can range as high as 50%+ of the gross settlement. Issue 1 allows AR victims keep more of their own settlement.
Issue 1 was sponsored and referred to the Arkansas voters by an overwhelming majority of the conservative legislators in the Arkansas General Assembly and has the support of a diverse coalition representing farmers, job creators, doctors and hospitals.
Here are some facts about Issue 1
- Issue 1 protects the right of trial by jury and our 7th Amendment rights
- Issue 1 does not cap economic compensatory damages so that victims are fully compensated for actual economic losses past, present and future
- Issue 1 caps contingency fees for attorneys in civil actions at 33.3% of the net recovery
- authorize the General Assembly to adopt legislation establishing the process for calculating the fee and setting penalties for violation
- Authorize the General Assembly to adjust the fee cap with 2/3 vote of each chamber
- Issue 1 provides reasonable caps on punitive damage awards in actions for wrongful death or injury to person or property at the greater of $500,000 or 3 times the compensatory damage award for each claimant
- Authorize the General Assembly to increase – but not decrease -the cap with 2/3 vote of each house
- Issue 1 removes the punitive damages cap in cases of intentional misconduct
- Issue 1 provides reasonable caps on non-economic damage awards in actions for wrongful death or injury to person or property at $500,000 for each claimant, not to exceed $500,000 to be shared among the beneficiaries of a decedent in a wrongful death action
- Authorize the General Assembly to increase – but not decrease – the cap with 2/3 vote of each house Authorize the General Assembly to adopt legislation establishing the process for adjusting the damage caps based on inflation/deflation
- Issue 1 states that the Arkansas Supreme Court will continue to adopt and implement rules of pleading, practice and procedure
- Issue 1 authorizes the General Assembly, by 3/5 vote of each chamber, to
- adopt rules of pleading, practice and procedure for the courts such as The Courthouse Dogs Child Witness Support Act; and,
- amend or repeal rules of pleading, practice and procedure prescribed by the Arkansas Supreme Court
- None of the items in Issue 1 are novel or untested:
- 19 states have some form of limits on contingency fees for attorneys
- 33 states have some form of damage caps
- in the federal court system, and in 16 states, the legislature has authority to approve and/or adopt court rules