Ark. Business Community Promotes Tort Reform Bill

January 22, 2003

The Arkansas business community initiated a tort reform effort which has resulted in the introduction of a bill that would be a major step in restoring rationality to the state’s tort system, according to the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII), which helped draft the bill.

“We have been involved in drafting H.B. 1038, and are actively supporting this tort reform proposal,” Jim Taylor, southeastern regional manager of the NAII, said. “It is a significant bill that will face strong opposition from the trial bar.”

The bill was introduced this week by Reps. Ferguson and Parks as the first major insurance-related legislative effort in the 84th General Assembly of Arkansas.

H.B. 1038 includes the following important provisions:
· Establishes a more equitable assessment of percentages of fault;
· Makes a party responsible for the fault of another person or entity if both the party and the other person were acting in concert;
· Increases the standards required for the awarding of punitive damages along with caps on those damages;
· Requires separate hearings on punitive damages, and:
· Creates changes in venue provisions.

“Although this bill will face formidable opposition from the trial bar, we’re confident that the overwhelming support it has in the Arkansas business community will convince legislators that tort reform is sorely needed in this state,” Taylor added.

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