TN Legislature passes lawsuit abuse reform

June 1, 2011 1:00AM

May 12, 2011 Lawmakers Agree: Tennessee Needs More Jobs, Not More Lawsuits NASHVILLE, TN – With bipartisan support, the 107th Tennessee General Assembly agreed that the Volunteer State needs more jobs, not more lawsuits, by passing the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011. The House voted 72-24 on Monday to pass the bill, and the Senate passed it this morning by a 21-12 vote. Governor Haslam is expected to sign the bill in the coming days, making the law effective October 1, 2011. “Tennesseans spoke loud and clear to lawmakers that they were more interested in jobs than the status quo and an unpredictable civil justice system,” said Justin Owen, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the organization that led the grassroots effort for change. “This reform allows for a much more balanced and just system, and one that attracts quality employers with much needed and competitively-paying jobs. The beneficiaries of reform include local economies, under and unemployed Tennesseans, uninsured families, communities underserved by doctors, and the list goes on. We applaud the Legislature for doing what’s right for Tennesseans.” Highlights of the bill include:

  • There is no cap on economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, job loss, property damage, and rehabilitation costs as a result of a tort action. These damages are considered measurable, provable and objectively quantifiable.
  • Subjective, non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, inconvenience, or humiliation, are capped at $750,000 cap per occurrence for medical liability actions and per plaintiff for non-medical actions.
  • There are higher caps in place for catastrophic events such as spinal cord injuries, extensive burn injuries, intent to injure and other specific circumstances.
  • Punitive damages are capped at the greater of $500,000 or twice all other damages.
  • Unless directly involved in the design and/or manufacturing of a product, sellers are no longer liable for punitive damages.
  • Unless the manufacturer withheld or omitted regulatory information, manufacturers are no longer liable for punitive damages as long as they were in regulatory compliance.

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan think tank committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee. Through research and advocacy, the Center promotes policy solutions grounded in the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government. For more information, visit