Election Law

Suits seek to block Arkansas referendum that would cap attorney fees and damages in medical cases

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Two lawsuits filed this week seek to block an Arkansas ballot referendum that would cap noneconomic damages and attorney fees in medical injury cases with a state constitutional amendment.

On Monday, two Arkansas residents filed a lawsuit claiming the referendum should be tossed from the ballot because its title is misleading, according to a press release (PDF) by the Arkansas Bar Association. One of the plaintiffs is Paula Casey, a retired dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock law school. Arkansas Online has a story.

“The ballot title fails to convey an intelligible idea of the scope and impact of the proposed amendment, is materially misleading to the voters, and omits material information,” the lawsuit says.

The measure, known as Issue 4, is opposed by the bar association. It would require lawmakers to create a cap for noneconomic damages in medical lawsuits against health-care providers of at least $250,000, and would limit a contingency fee contract to one-third of any recovery after all costs of the litigation are deducted.

A group called the Committee to Protect Arkansas Families filed a second lawsuit on Thursday that seeks to block votes on the ballot measure from being counted, the Brown County Democrat reports. The suit also claims the ballot title is misleading, and challenges the validity of signatures gathered to put the referendum on the ballot. The committee was formed in July with the aim of defeating the proposed amendment, Talk Business reported.

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