Governor Haslam (R-Tenn.) has introduced his tort reform bill which, among other things, imposes an arbitrary cap on the damages a jury may award for pain, suffering, disability, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium (in both personal injury cases and wrongful death cases). The proposed cap is $750,000.
The stated reason? According to the Times Free Press, the Governor thinks we need to “make sure there aren’t states around us that don’t have more welcoming climates around us than we have.” My guess is that he means that Tennessee needs to more welcoming to those who negligently cause harm as opposed to those who suffer from that harm.
One positive thing can be said for the Governor’s proposal – it is more generous to the maimed and survivors of the dead than that of the Republicans who have sponsored bills in the House and Senate.
The Governor has a right (and obligation) to make a policy choice and, in fact, he was elected to make policy choices that benefit Tennesseans.. The members of the political parties of our state have the same right and obligation. But the choices each politician makes is a reflection of their values and priorities.
Those who disagree with a public policy of shackling the common sense and wisdom of Tennessee jurors and setting arbitrary caps on damage awards for pain, suffering, etc. should let their voices be heard. Loudly. Now.