"Tort reform" is a mysterious and elusive concept to most ordinary citizens. It’s not something that you really think about in everyday life. It’s not nearly as pressing as those bills that need to be paid, picking the kids up from school, or running to the office to finish up some paperwork. Regardless of your daily schedule, odds are that you don’t generally run into tort reform up close and personal. You may not even know what tort reform is.
Tort reform is legislation that makes it more difficult to file personal injury lawsuits; receive a jury trial for personal injury cases (despite that being a constitutional right); and arbitrarily limits the amount of compensation a victim can receive. Caps on damages, wherein a person can’t receive more than a set amount, regardless of whether a jury awards a higher amount of damages, are everywhere. See our Tort Reform Articles, which include local, state, and national cases, here.
As reported by the Arkansas Times, Judge Mike Maggio recently negated a unanimous jury verdict. He found that the jury’s judgment of $5.2 million excessive, and arbitrarily reduced it to $1 million.
The case revolved around Martha Bull, 76, who died after experiencing excruciating pain because no one would take her to the hospital, even though her doctor had ordered her transfer to an ER. The order was lost or misplaced, all while Bull was screaming and crying in pain. The nursing home she was in was found liable for negligence, medical malpractice, and violation of the patient’s rights.
Greenbriar Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is part of a large corporation controlled by Michael Morton’s Central Arkansas Nursing Centers. Homes under their corporate control have a history of poor insurance coverage, which often gets used to pay legal defense fees, limiting even further the amount of money available for the plaintiff.
Tort reform takes the decision out of the jury’s hands and places it into a single judge’s who may be looking for campaign contributions for his next election, and not justice for a vulnerable adult.