Mississippi Litigation Review & Commentary

Mississippi Litigation Review & Commentary

Comments on the Latest Developments in Mississippi Civil Litigation

For Mississippi native son and attorney Philip Thomas, blogging about law, politics and topical issues in the state extends a conversation he’s been... More

Tag Archives: tort reform

Circuit Judge Eddie Bowen Rules Mississippi’s Non-economic Damages Caps are Unconstitutional

Posted in Tort Reform, Verdicts in Mississippi
In this October 23 Order, Jasper County Circuit Judge Eddie Bowen ruled that Mississippi’s non-economic damages caps are not constitutional. I previously wrote about the underlying case (Tanner v. Eagle Oil & Gas Co.) here and here. A Paulding jury rendered a $18 million non-economic verdict The total verdict in the case was $36 million. Judge Bowen’s analysis started with the sexy issue … Continue Reading

A.P. Reports 5th Circuit Ruling in Sears v. Learmonth Will be Next Year

Posted in 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Mississippi Supreme Court
An A.P. article on Tuesday stated that the 5th Circuit’s ruling on the constitutionality of Mississippi’s non-economic damages caps will not be made until 2013. The article reports that briefing will not be complete until December 3.  Oral argument has not been scheduled. Attorneys for the parties are uncertain about whether there will be oral argument: … Continue Reading

5th Circuit Moving Forward with Deciding Caps in Sears v. Learmonth

Posted in 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Mississippi Supreme Court
The Mississippi Business Journal Reports that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is asking for more briefs in the Sears v. Learmonth case. This is the case where the Mississippi Supreme Court refused to decide the constitutionality of the state’s non-economic damages on a certified question from the 5th Circuit.  The 5th Circuit’s October 5, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court’s Refusal to Address Constitutionality of Damages Caps was Almost the Same as Upholding Caps

Posted in Politics in Mississippi, Tort Reform
Mississippi’s caps on non-economic damages were upheld as a result of Thursday’s decision in Sears v. Learmonth—just in an indirect way. The Court’s decision was—in some ways—both surprising and unsurprising. In 2010 the Court was able to avoid deciding the constitutionality of the caps in the Double Quick v. Lymas case when it reversed and … Continue Reading

Coahoma County Circuit Court: Mississippi Tort Reform Caps Unconstitutional

Posted in Politics in Mississippi, Tort Reform, Verdicts in Mississippi
Last week Circuit Judge Charles Webster of Coahoma County ruled that Mississippi’s limit on non-economic damages is unconstitutional. The decision arose from a $7.5 million verdict in a premises liability fire case in September 2011. I don’t know what the non-economic damages were, but will look it up Monday and update this post. Here is the Order. … Continue Reading

Perhaps One of the Last Products Liability Cases Ever to be Tried in the State of Mississippi Scheduled to Resume on Monday

Posted in Politics in Mississippi, U.S. District Courts in Mississippi
The trial in the products liability case against Ford Motor Company that I mentioned in this post two weeks ago is scheduled to resume on Monday.  If Republican Gary Chism’s “Loser Pays” legislation passes, this will be one of the last products liability cases ever tried in the State of Mississippi. Chism, who works for insurance … Continue Reading

Tennessee Loser Pays Bill May Be Unfair, But Mississippi’s is Much Worse

Posted in Politics in Mississippi, Tort Reform
On Monday I wrote about the Republicans’ “loser pays” legislation in Mississippi. Republican sponsored “loser pays” legislation is also on the table in Tennessee, as reported in the Tennessean (a Gannett Company). Critics of the Tennessee bill state that the bill is unfair to regular folks: Daniel Clayton, a medical malpractice lawyer in Nashville, said … Continue Reading

Republican Legislator Proposes Loser Pays Statute for People and Their Lawyers

Posted in Politics in Mississippi
As expected, Republicans are moving forward with “Loser Pays” legislation in the Mississippi Legislature. But there is a major twist. Only some losers pay. With the Republican party controlled by big business, can you guess which ones? Here is Representative Gary Chism’s - House Bill 562. The title tells a lot: “An Act to Provide for … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules in Caps Case that…..More Briefing Required!!!

Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court, Politics in Mississippi
I missed it. The Supreme Court issued an Order last week in the Sears v. Learmonth case where the Court is to decide whether Mississippi’s cap on non-economic damages is constitutional. Here is the Court’s September 15, 2011 Order. The Order states that the Court is hung up on the fact that the verdict form did not … Continue Reading

What Would a Republican Controlled Mississippi House of Representatives Mean for the Legal Profession in Mississippi?

Posted in Politics in Mississippi, Tort Reform
Mississippians will go to the polls in November to decide State House of Representative races. The results of those races will determine whether the House will be majority Democrat, with a Democratic speaker, or majority Republican with a Republican speaker. The election will likely have a profound affect on the future of the legal profession in Mississippi. Today’s Wall Street … Continue Reading

Mississippi Judicial Elections Covered in HBO Documentary Hot Coffee Airing Monday

Posted in General
On Monday night at 8:00 p.m., the documentary Hot Coffee airs on HBO. You can watch the official trailer for the movie below. The film analyzes tort reform in the U.S. In addition to the famed McDonald’s spilled-coffee verdict, the movie covers Mississippi Supreme Court elections and the prosecution of former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver … Continue Reading

West Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Damages Caps

Posted in General
On Wednesday the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld West Virginia’s legislative damages caps. Here is the opinion in MacDonald v. City Hospital, Inc. One of the plaintiff’s lawyers in the case was Robert Peck, who argued for the plaintiff last week in the Sears v. Learmonth case at the Mississippi Supreme Court. This is not … Continue Reading

Report from Sears v. Learmonth Oral Argument

Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court, Politics in Mississippi, Tort Reform
I attended the oral argument in Sears v. Learmonth yesterday at the Mississippi Supreme Court. I counted approximately 50 people in attendance—mostly plaintiff lawyers. Given the importance of the decision, I thought that every firm in Jackson hosting summer clerks would be there with their clerks. Perhaps they did not want it to look like they support caps. … Continue Reading

Oral Argument Tomorrow in Case Challenging Mississippi’s Non-economic Damages Caps

Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court
The oral argument in Sears v. Learmonth is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in the en banc courtroom at the Mississippi Supreme Court. This is the case where the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals certified the issue of whether Mississippi’s non-economic caps is constitutional. Each side is allocated forty-five minutes to argue. Should be interesting. In … Continue Reading

Madison County Journal Joins Tort Reform Propaganda Machine

Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court, Politics in Mississippi, Tort Reform
A definition of ‘propaganda’ is “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular cause or point of view.” Last week’s Madison County Journal’s editorial supporting tort reform damages caps meets this definition. Here are some of the gems from the editorial followed by my explanations: Since tort reform, medical liability insurance … Continue Reading

Gannett’s Newspaper Headlines are Nuts

Posted in General
Gannett ran the same article on Mississippi jury verdicts in two newspapers on Sunday. The headline of the article in the Hattiesburg American was “Jury Awards Running Rampant.” Meanwhile, the headline for the same article in the Clarion-Ledger was “Jackpot awards still occur.” The actual article opens with a softer tone: Large verdicts still are being won … Continue Reading

Miss. S. Ct. Yet to Schedule Oral Arguments in Two Damages Caps Cases

Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court
There are at least two cases currently before the Mississippi Supreme Court that challenge the constitutionality of Mississippi’s damages caps. Oral argument has not been scheduled in either case. The first appeal is the APAC v. Bryant case from this 2009 DeSoto County verdict in the amount of $30 million to a teenager who spent eight months … Continue Reading

Biggest Question After Oral Argument in Double Quick v. Lymas is Whether Court Will Even Rule on Constitutionality of Tort Reform Caps

Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court, Politics in Mississippi, Tort Reform
The entire Mississippi Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday before a mostly full courtroom in the Double Quick v. Lymas case. Here is the Clarion-Ledger’s article on the hearing. The audience was not disappointed as the arguments were very interesting. Case Background The case is a premises liability case out of Humphrey County involving the shooting … Continue Reading

Law Review Article Examines “Settlement Mill” Law Firms

Posted in General
Run-of-the-Mill Justice is the title of an article by Stanford Law professor Nora Freeman Engstrom published in a recent issue of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. Here is the article. The Article claims to represent the first ever careful study of settlement mill law firms. The article defines “settlement mills” as:  “high-volume personal injury law … Continue Reading

Illinois and Georgia Supreme Courts Strike Down Non-economic Caps

Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court, Tort Reform
The Supreme Courts of Illinois and Georgia recently ruled that tort reform statutes placing a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are unconstitutional. Will Bardwell has been following the litigation. Here are his posts on the decisions in Georgia and Illinois. Bardwell links to the Georgia opinion. Here is the Illinois opinion. The opinions … Continue Reading

Medical malpractice payments hit record LOW levels

Posted in General
The Healthcare Finance News is reporting that: “Fewer medical malpractice payments were made on behalf of doctors in 2009 than any year on record, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank.” And: “This finding contradicts claims that medical malpractice litigation is to blame for rising healthcare costs and that changing the liability system to the … Continue Reading