Bill to limit business liability in civil lawsuits clears committee

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 7:15pm

Gov. Bill Haslam’s No. 1 jobs bill — a sweeping measure to limit business liability in civil lawsuits —cleared the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote Tuesday on its way toward almost certain passage in the legislature.

Senators began hearing testimony in the afternoon on the companion bill. Senate sponsors said they would delay any vote until next week.

Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, said tort reform “will bring jobs to Tennessee, period. How will it do that? It will do that by providing certainty and predictability for businesses that want to locate in Tennessee while ensuring at the same time that plaintiffs who are injured will be compensated for their quantifiable economic damages 100 percent. It’s this certainty and predictability that will bring businesses to Tennessee and, therefore, will bring jobs to Tennessee.”

The bill wouldn’t limit compensatory damages in negligence or malpractice lawsuits, including medical expenses and loss of pay or earning capacity. But it would place a $750,000 cap on most so-called noneconomic damages — such as physical and emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of companionship, humiliation and loss of enjoyment of life.

The proposal would limit punitive damages, which are intended to punish wrongdoers, to twice the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.

After negotiations with both sides in the legislative fight, the Haslam administration agreed to amend the bill to raise the cap to $1.25 million for certain catastrophic cases — spinal cord injuries, amputations, severe burns and the death of a parent leaving young children. The amendment also lifts the cap for wrongdoers who are committing felonies or who are drunk.

10 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 4/19/11 at 7:35

I hope TN is proud of what they have elected to make laws for our state. When is the next election? The GOP says all of these new laws and low taxes will bring jobs to the state. Don't count on it. The low taxes of the rich has not created jobs.

By: revo-lou on 4/19/11 at 7:40

We sure don't seem to have had any trouble attracting companies/jobs in the past. I guess VW, Nissan HQ, etc, don't count as real companies or real jobs.

By: RTungsten on 4/19/11 at 10:39

I wonder if we will see less lawyer commercials on TV now? If so, that alone is worth the cost of pushing this bill through.

By: courier37027 on 4/19/11 at 11:44

pswindle, your man Bredesen was quick to give tax breaks to HCA and Gaylord.

By: morpheus120 on 4/20/11 at 7:45

Revo-lou sums it up perfectly and anyone with a brain knows this is just the GOP pandering to its donors from big business.

NEVER forget the New Golden Rule of politics... If a Republican says it, it's gotta be a lie.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/20/11 at 8:02

Moonglow1How many companies plan to bring jobs to TN because of this legislation? Kelsey could not name one. He only spouted more nonsense. Perhaps one of these legislators will fall in a Pilot station and sue for damages. Too bad, they will be victims of their own foolhardy legislation. One year from now we must count the number of jobs this legislation created. Then vote Kelsey & others out because there won't be one job I guarantee it.

By: pswindle on 4/20/11 at 9:02

Every bill that Haslam has signed, protects his own businesses.

By: trtay2004 on 4/20/11 at 9:17

Where are all these new jobs the GOP is referring? All talk and no action except to fatten the wallets of wealthy business owners like Haslam. This is so sad for Tennessee.

By: nash615 on 4/20/11 at 2:44

I believe it's true we always get the government we deserve.

I'm just trying to figure out what I did that was so awful to end up deserving the government we've got now.

By: revo-lou on 4/20/11 at 3:32

{I'm just trying to figure out what I did that was so awful to end up deserving the government we've got now.}

Let republicans vote.