Subject Matter: TN Legal Alert
On Monday, Hamilton County, Tennessee (Chattanooga) Circuit
Judge W. Neil Thomas, III, ruled that the $750,000 cap on damages made
part of the recent Civil Justice Act Reform in October 2011 is
unconstitutional. His opinion is attached in Clark v. AT&T et al.
The case was presented on AT&T’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
The lawsuit originated from an automobile accident case and the demand in
excess of the statutory cap on-economic damages in the Complaint. The
issue framed by Judge Thomas was whether legislative limits on a jury’s
determination of pain and suffering damages in a personal injury case are
constitutional. Judge Thomas reviewed the legislative history of the Act
and examined the history of jury trials all the way back to England’s King
Henry II, calling unfettered access to a fair jury trial a fundamental right
guaranteed in our Constitution. After making these analyses, he
only concluded that the right to trial by jury is a fundamental interest,
and, when strictly scrutinized, there is no compelling State interest for the
statute to trump the constitutional right to a jury trial. The conclusion
reached is that since there is no such interest, the Act is unconstitutional.
Judge Thomas also presented the various other states finding
constitutional and unconstitutional tort reform acts.
Appeals will follow and
we will keep you updated on current developments.
Read the full text of
Judge Thomas’ ruling here.
Ms. Adelman, PLLC,
shareholder in the firm’s Memphis, Tennessee office, can be reached at
901-201-4017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firm/Company: Hagwood AdelmanTipton
Document Date: January 1, 1970
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