Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce heard arguments for and against keeping Issue One, the lawsuit-limiting amendment, this morning and said he’d rule quickly.

Retired Judge Marion Humphrey filed suit to have the amendment tossed as unconstitutional log rolling because it wraps up multiple distinct law changes in one measure. It was placed on the ballot at the best of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and nursing home and medical interests to reduce corporate exposure to lawsuits.


The amendment caps non-economic damages for, say, death of a person due to negligence or worse to $500,000; sets a cap on attorney fees at a third of recoveries; limits punitive damages and gtives legislature control of court rules, now the power of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The state is defending the amendment. The chamber of commerce is supporting it.


Whatever Pierce’s decision, it likely will go on to the Arkansas Supreme Court, whose members include an opponent of the change in rule-making authority in the person of Chief Justice Dan Kemp and a long-time supporter of a reduction in damage suits by Justice Shawn Womack, who fought for so-called tort reform as a Republican state senator.