Tort-cap case headed to Supreme Court
See related stories:
The End of Tort Reform? Jan. 11, 2010
Survey: State’s legal environment near bottom March 22, 2010
JACKSON — Attorneys for Ronnie Lymas go to the Mississippi Supreme Court June 8 hoping to resurrect a $4.1-million jury verdict vehemently opposed by dozens of trade associations and Gov. Haley Barbour.
Critics say Lymas is not legally entitled to that much money.
A Humphreys County jury decided Lymas should be compensated for getting shot eight times in the back in 2007 during an altercation at a gas station/convenience store in Belzoni. The jury found the owners of Double Quick liable for Lymas’ injuries. Lymas sued Double Quick, claiming the company didn’t do enough to ensure the safety of its customers.
The jury awarded actual damages to cover things like medical costs, plus non-economic damages with the total coming to about $4.1 million. The judge in the case, however, lowered the non-economic damages to $1 million, which is the cap put into law by the Mississippi Legislature in 2003.
Lymas’ attorneys are challenging the judge’s decision and the constitutionality of the cap.
Joe Tatum of Jackson, who represents Lymas, has declined to comment on the case.
Since the 2008 decisions by the jury and the judge, groups from the Mississippi Farm Bureau to the Mississippi Propane Gas Association to the Mississippi Poultry Association have lined up against Lymas.
The case is seen not only as a significant test of civil justice changes enacted in 2003 — hailed by business leaders and despised by plaintiffs’ attorneys — but also as a showdown over so-called premises liability issues.
Barbour champions tort reform and has said a ruling that overrides the tighter liability laws would be devastating for the state. He has asked the Supreme Court to uphold “the constitutionality of Mississippi’s non-economic damage caps.”
The non-economic caps — also called punitive damages — put a limit on what juries can award someone for such things as pain and suffering.
Bob Montgomery, a Canton attorney representing some of the trade associations, said the case marks the first time a challenge to the tort reform laws has reached the Supreme Court.
Lymas has his own supporters such as the Magnolia Bar Association, a lawyers’ group that in its brief said the Legislature’s non-economic damage limit violated the Constitution’s separation of powers by stepping into judiciary matters.
To sign up for Mississippi Business Daily Updates, click here.
One Response to “Tort-cap case headed to Supreme Court”
Top Posts & Pages
- Investigators find massive Ag Museum fire was an accident
- Half century of memories — Christmas on Deer Creek to celebrate 50th anniversary
- Bryant wants free tuition for students with technical diploma
- Analyst: KiOR Columbus plant may end up sold as scrap
- Prison-contract task force working in wake of Epps' indictment
- (UPDATE) Gov. Bryant: $1.2 billion aluminum plant is a very exciting proposition for the state of Mississippi
- Former MDEQ Executive Director Trudy Fisher joins Butler Snow
- WILLOUGHBY: Bernie Reed cites hard work as key to success of Reed’s Metals
- Court hits David Watkins with $600,000 order over Retro Metro issues