The Clarion-Ledger printed this story this morning by Miss. Business Journal writer Clay Chandler. The story covers the status of the non-economic damages caps debate following the 5th Circuit upholding the caps in Sears v. Learmonth.

The story extensively quoted MC Law School Professor Matt Steffey:

“The Mississippi Supreme Court is not by anyway bound by the Fifth Circuit’s opinion,” said Matt Steffey, professor at Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. “They may or may not find it persuasive.”

 Steffey said the part of the Fifth Circuit’s opinion that referred to the disposition as an “eerie guess” means the court is supposing what state law will be. 

“It’s certainly not settling the matter,” he said. 

The issue will likely reach the Mississippi Supreme Court in a way that it will be obligated to answer it, Steffey said, referring to the state court’s decision to pass on the issue last summer.

 “By that, I mean it will be presented in such a way that it will be straight-forward constitutionally. 

“Even if the Mississippi Supreme Court is persuaded by the Fifth Circuit’s reasoning on the central issue of this appeal, and that is the inviolate right to the jury guarantee, that’s the central holding of the Fifth Circuit’s opinion, and maybe the Mississippi Supreme Court finds that persuasive and adopts it,” he said.

Prof. Steffey is a good source for an article like this, since he is unbiased (compared to someone like me) and doesn’t have to worry about offending his clients (which keeps defense lawyers from publicly criticizing caps).

The big question now is when will the Supreme Court have to decide the issue. My opinion is that the Court can avoid the issue for as long as it wants. Others disagree.