Beaten In Legislature, Tort Reform Fight Continues

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, May. 6, 2013 12:00 am  

“Just because the session is over doesn't mean the war is over,” said Matthew Hass, executive director of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association.

But Williams’ legislation was not the way to go about it, said Charles Harwell, president of the Arkansas Bar Association, which opposed the resolution.

“We didn’t feel it was proper separation of powers to have rule-making by the Legislature for the judicial branch,” Harwell said.

Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, who is an attorney, said he didn’t support SJR5 either.

“I thought [the legislation] was problematic and could result, at best, in politicization of the judicial system and, at worst, corruption of it,” he said.

He introduced his own Senate joint resolution, which would have capped punitive damages at five times compensatory damages. But he couldn’t get a hearing on the item.

“I think most people want tort reform,” Hutchinson said.

Hass said that he is making plans to gather all interested parties to form a task force to craft tort reform.

He said he doesn’t have a timeline yet for when that might happen or what will come out of the meetings. The goal of the talks will be to reinstall features of the Civil Justice Reform Act.

Once all sides agree on the reform, then the rules could be taken to the state Supreme Court to make the changes, Hass said. But more than likely, the General Assembly in two years would have to approve parts of the reform, Hass said.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.