Tort Reform Bill Passes House

January 31, 2003
Posted at: 2:25 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The House Friday approved legislation to limit damages in civil lawsuits, and is sending the bill on to the Senate for consideration.

Representative Danny Ferguson of Forrest City sponsored the bill. Ferguson says the measure would help slow rising health care costs. The bill would limit punitive damages to $500,000 in medical malpractice and other civil lawsuits.

Trial lawyers argued that tort limits would benefit large corporations and further hurt injured people. Doctors and other supporters argued that without tort limits, medical bills and health insurance would rise.

Ferguson said the bill does not limit an injured party's ability to recover medical costs as well as ``non-economic'' losses, such as pain and suffering.

Thirty-seven states have revised their tort laws. Tennessee also will take up the issue in its legislative session this year.

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