Since that time, several cases have come before the Mississippi Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of tort reform–specifically damage caps. Currently before the Court is the case of Learmouth v. Sears Roebuck and Company. In Learmouth, a Neshoba County jury awarded the Plaintiff $4M in damages ($1.2M in lost wages, $573,000 in past and future medical expenses, and $2.2M in non-economic damages). The trial court reduced the non-economic damages to the state’s $1M damages cap, and the Plaintiff appealed the trial court’s reduction to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 5th Circuit then referred the matter to the Mississippi Supreme Court for a ruling on the constitutionality of the damages cap.It goes without saying that the issue of tort reform is a very “hot button” topic in the political discussion of today. In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made it one of its top priorities of recent. While it is very difficult to find people that lukewarm on the topic, it is important to know the real facts about tort reform and who is behind its enactment.
This battle is not only going on in Mississippi. It is being fought in our nation’s capitol. As part of corporate America’s powerful lobby and incessant rant over the cost of frivolous lawsuits in America, Congress is now considering a medical liability bill to “rein in” American juries and their ability to award damages to those injured by medical negligence. All of this is being done in spite of the evidence put forth by the Institute of Medicine, which indicates that as many as 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors. Furthermore, studies show that medical negligence is the 6th leading cause of death in America.
See article entitled “Do As I Say, Not As I Sue, Exposing the Lawsuit-Happy Hypocrites of U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform”
Other states have recently addressed the issue of the constitutionality of certain aspects of legislature enacted tort reform and found that the law was unconstitutional. Those states include: Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois, Washington and Florida. States in which the constitutionality of tort reform is pending on appeal include: California, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, and Mississippi.