Haslam Signed Law That Places Price on Life

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Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law today his pet project to take away a jury's power in cases where citizens are harmed by businesses. He says it will create jobs. We're keeping track.

The Republican-dominated legislature passed and Gov. Bill Haslam signed into a law a measure that caps damages awarded to victims of horrific accidents, medical malpractice and other life-changing injuries. Mr. Haslam said perverting the justice system would “create jobs” — we’re holding him to it. 

Republicans said their plan to protect insurance companies profits and reckless corporations will increase business prospects in Tennessee, despite the fact that after eight years of Democratic leadership, Tennessee is already continually ranked one of the best states to do business.

An Associated Press story noted that last year in Tennessee, only 14 trials exceeded the proposed caps, meaning there would be no radical change to the state’s job creation climate, as supporters claim. There is no evidence that Tennessee juries have been tossing about outrageous awards, however, or that businesses were afraid to move here because of it.

So instead, Republicans put a price on life. $29 a day for the lifetime of a 20-year-old girl who had suffered just such an injury, Democratic state Sen. Roy Herron pointed out.

“Today state lawmakers put a price on the life of our children. They put a price on the life of our parents and grandparents. They put a price on the life of the weak, the paralyzed, the neglected — all under the guise of economic development,” Senator Eric Stewart of Belvidere said.

FACTS:

Caps on jury awards was Haslam’s pet project, perhaps because his multi-million dollar business is tied up in a lawsuit stemming from a citizen being killed at a Pilot gas station owned by the governor. [WSMV.com, 3/2/11]

Under Haslam leadership, the unemployment rate jumped in June for a third straight month. [wrcbtv.com, 6/16/11]

 




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