DATE: March 1, 2011

GOVERNOR BARBOUR ASKS STATE SUPREME COURT TO AFFIRM CONSTITUTIONALITY OF TORT REFORM CAP
Legislature has authority to establish limits on non-economic damages

JACKSON – The Mississippi Legislature has the right to enact caps on non-economic damages awarded in lawsuits, Gov. Haley Barbour said in a legal brief filed Monday with the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The limit on lawsuit awards and other tort reform initiatives have cleaned up Mississippi’s image as a “judicial hellhole” with outrageous monetary awards.

Mississippi’s tort reform measures, passed in 2004, have resulted in lower insurance premiums for doctors and helped attract new business to the state.

“The non-economic damage caps and other tort reform measures leveled the playing field for all litigants, ensured fair and predictable results, averted a health care crisis and attracted new businesses to the State,” Gov. Barbour noted in the brief. He also said he is concerned that “any judicial repeal of the non-economic damage caps or other tort reform measures would destroy the positive progress made in recent years, crush current economic development and drive away desperately needed jobs during one of the most uncertain economic times in the nation’s history.”

The case before the Supreme Court, Sears Roebuck & Lisa Learmonth, 2011-FC-00143, involves the constitutionality of the on non-economic damage caps enacted in 2004.

Placing a sensible limit on pain and suffering and other indeterminable damages was a public policy decision supported by an overwhelming majority of the State’s elected representatives, the brief states.

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Gov. Barbour release