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No other proposal has the potential to help Arkansas more than Issue 1--a proposed constitutional amendment for tort reform with overwhelming support of Arkansas legislators.

Your vote this November can grow jobs, improve access to quality, affordable health care, strengthen protection of our most vulnerable citizens, restore power to the people, and remove power from special interests who use it purely for profit.

Support for Issue 1 is backed by hardworking Arkansans, business owners and job creators, physicians and health-care advocates, civic leaders, and elected officials at state and local levels.

Issue 1 is our opportunity to enact meaningful tort reform. Once passed, it becomes a permanent part of our Constitution, protected from attacks by activist judges.

As an attorney, I've seen the negative consequences of our broken legal system. It hurts our businesses and communities. I co-sponsored Issue 1 to give people their voice.

Issue 1 relieves financial burdens from investors and job creators, making Arkansas competitive with neighboring states. It levels the playing field for economic development, attracting new industries to our state by protecting them and our small businesses and entrepreneurs from frivolous lawsuits.

When I served in the Army, I went on marches carrying a heavy rucksack. The added weight slowed me down. Other soldiers without rucksacks outpaced me.

Right now, Arkansas' economy is weighed down by the burden of the system. Every state bordering Arkansas has tort reform similar to Issue 1.

Issue 1 not only affects business. It's a matter of life and death for people with limited health-care access.

The system is denying people health care in Hampton, for example. Last year Janette Goolsby wrote about a local doctor retiring after 30 years in practice. His retirement leaves no physician in Hampton.

Imagine having to drive a sick family member or a dying child for miles to see a doctor.

Ambulance-chasing lawyers who push the cost of medical malpractice insurance higher often prevent health-care professionals from practicing in rural Arkansas. Most attorneys in Arkansas are honest professionals. Unfortunately, because of the unfairness built into our civil justice system, we are targets for predatory lawyers and out-of-state ambulance chasers who only care about themselves.

We basically pay a "lawsuit tax" because of the current system. This "lawsuit tax" is estimated to cost an average citizen $900 a year. It doesn't pay for roads or better schools. The money pays for beach houses and expensive toys for greedy lawyers.

The most painful cost is to our most vulnerable citizens. Hospitals are forced to stop providing services to those in need. The financial exposure from frivolous lawsuits puts our elderly veterans who need assisted living at risk of losing their homes.

It is troubling to see opponents of Issue 1 hijack the pro-life movement. Instead of focusing on protecting the unborn, some are letting trial lawyers manipulate them.

The advancements we have made for pro-life causes shouldn't be sold to lawyers who oppose protecting life.

An expectant mother in rural Arkansas is experiencing contractions early in her pregnancy. She is frightened for the health of her baby. Her fears are legitimate, knowing she may lose her child because emergency care is far away.

Arkansas' infant mortality rate is higher than the national average. The Health Department reports premature birth is a significant cause of infant mortality.

Premature births don't have to cause the death of a child. We know maternal and intensive care for premature newborns reduces death. We also know Arkansans' access to care in NICUs (neonatal intensive care units) is inconsistent. More health professionals improve the chances both mother and child survive a premature birth.

Issue 1 saves lives. There is nothing more pro-life than that.

We have judges in Arkansas who legislate from the bench. In 2015, we passed a bill allowing young victims of sexual assault to have a comfort dog while testifying. To most Arkansans providing comfort to an abused child is the right thing to do, but Judge Wendell Griffen said no. He ruled in favor of the sexual abusers over the child.

His ruling was made to maintain his power. This is unacceptable. A vote for Issue 1 restores power to you. It allows the people's elected officials to act as a check and balance against activist judges.

That's why I'm asking you to join me and many other Arkansans who support of Issue 1.


State Sen. Trent Garner represents District 27.

Editorial on 05/28/2018

Print Headline: For tort reform

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  • notbot
    May 28, 2018 at 7:57 a.m.

    Any discussion convincing a reader of tort reform is lost in Garner’s rant on Griffen and service dogs. When he says “he ruled in favor of the sexual abusers over the child” it’s easy to see how dumb Garner is in his logic. Whatever meaning I could glean is canceled by this dumb comment.

  • skeptic1
    May 28, 2018 at 8:53 a.m.

    As an "attorney" you should know better than to spread this misinformation. What Issue 1 will do is put a $250,000 cap on medical malpractice claims. How much is your loved one's life worth? Can someone left permanently disabled be taken care of for the rest of their life with $250,000? What was your incentive to write this, because you know it is false? Very few lawyers take medical malpractice cases as it is because they are extremely expensive to prosecute, they are not "ambulance chasers," Issue 1 will make it so no lawyers will be able to take legitimate cases of malpractice. Shame on you.

  • Delta2
    May 28, 2018 at 9:24 a.m.

    skeptic1, although in general I do not favor Issue 1, the cap is on noneconomic and punitive damages, no limit on medical expenses and other measurable economic damages, such as future salary, etc. And isn't the proposed cap $500,000?

  • cliffcarson
    May 28, 2018 at 9:29 a.m.

    Any Law stating that an injured person is limited in what they can receive is a Law denying an injured persons rights and the Jurys right to determine rightful penalty against the offender.
    The injured Doctor mentioned did not retire because patients have a right to sue for Malpractice. State Senator Garner needs to be sent home in the next election for his disregard for the injured in any case brought forward. Many proposed laws from misguided elected officials are truly for the purpose of protecting the "In Crowd" from the just claims of the harmed. The injured person has a right to receive the amount needed to recover from an injury not just some limit set by law. This Tort Reform refers to all Law suits, not just a physical injury.

  • skeptic1
    May 28, 2018 at 9:55 a.m.

    Delta you are correct but even for someone permanently disabled and requiring lifelong care, $500,000 is not enough. The $250,000 cap was in their last attempt. This initiative is being funded by the Arkansas Medical Society, the Arkansas Truckers Association, Pulaski County Medical Society, Arkansas Health Care Association, Arkansas Hospital Association, and Arkansans for Jobs and Justice a special interest PAC.

  • Foghorn
    May 28, 2018 at 5:02 p.m.

    Garner is an a-hole who wants to make it possible for doctors to kill people with impunity. Gotta go with Cliff Carson on this one. Garner is completely anti-victim, pro-cap on the medical community.

  • Delta2
    May 28, 2018 at 7:34 p.m.

    DoubleBlind, really? Allow doctors to kill people with impunity? Hyperbole much?

  • skeptic1
    May 28, 2018 at 9:20 p.m.

    Delta2...DoubleBlind may sound over the top but in reality he is not far off. We already have a medical board that refuses to police and protect with doctors practicing despite numerous (10 or more) malpractice cases against them. There are few if any frivolous malpractice filings because of the expense in prosecuting those cases. Rule 1 is a sham and I pray to God the public doesn't fall for it, for all of our sake actually.

  • RBear
    May 29, 2018 at 6:16 a.m.

    The biggest problem I had with Garner's op-ed was the rambling nature of it. He could have just listed the facts, which Delta2 offered some points on, but instead he went on a right wing rambling rant that brought in abortion, judicial reform explained in a completely unrelated case, and as much rhetoric as he could muster up in the limited column space provided.
    So if Garner was looking to persuade voters on the matter, he failed miserably. Then again, most of the time he's appealing to voters who aren't the brightest on the block when it comes to issues. This time, he is appealing to independents and should have rethought his delivery for a more issue-focused message. According to him, why do we need tax cuts, economic development or even abortion laws? Issue 1 will fix them all AND get you a better job.

  • Delta2
    May 29, 2018 at 9:03 a.m.

    skeptic1, that's not the medical board that I know. If you've never appeared before them, believe me it's something to be thankful for. Just because lawsuits have been filed does not mean a physician is incompetent, and I'm not making a case for frivolous lawsuits. Any time a physician is sued he/she has to report it to the board, and it is reviewed.

    Arkansas is a pretty physician-friendly state as far as litigation goes, and insurance is not hard to obtain here (which was not the case about 15 or so years ago). That's why I don't favor Issue 1, I don't see it as necessary. Even if I had been on the fence about it, Garner sure didn't say anything to persuade me. Like RBear said, rambling, disjointed rhetoric.