Yes, that’s right, GOVERNOR HASLAM AND THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HELP TORT LAWYERS STAY IN BUSINESS! I was too hasty with my earlier post and didn’t think things though. It is the law of unintended consequences. Republican Governor Haslam, the Chamber of Commerce, and the state legislature have insured that people like me, trial lawyers, will thrive under the new law they just passed. That is how bad the new tort law (pushed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee Legislature, and signed by the Governor) capping non-economic damages is for the citizens of Tennessee.
You see in the old days in Tennessee when a company was really bad, and had killed and maimed people all across the state, a jury of 12 citizens could kill the bad corporation by compensating a victim with a sum of money that was over and above the defendant’s insurance policy. This made sure that the bad company never had the opportunity to kill and maim Tennessean’s again. That might have resulted in one large verdict, but only once, and then the company went out of the business of killing the people of Tennessee.
For people the rules are different. In criminal cases we have a "three strikes" rule. Hurt three people and you go away for a long, long, time. If it is bad enough, a person can get the death penalty and to heck with the three strikes rule. Thanks to the Chamber of Commerce’s new tort liability law the bad companies get to stay in business. There is no three strikes rule, heck there isn’t even a twenty strikes rule. There is no death penalty. Bad companies in Tennessee get to live (and hurt and maim) forever.
Under the new law the amount that can be awarded by a jury is limited, or capped, and is so low it is easily covered by a corporation’s insurance. Thus a really bad company gets to stay in business and will continue to kill and maim as long as the business is profitable. It can take risks now that it never could before.
Every bad act of the company that results in another victim will likely result in yet another law suit, a process that can no longer be stopped in Tennessee by killing the company. In fact, thanks to the Chamber of the Commerce we no longer have a way of driving unsafe companies out of our state. Mind you this is a law I fought against (having spent 22 years in the Marine Corps I have this thing about trying to protect Americans and keep them alive) as it is terrible for Tennessee.
Some corporations, and some people, need to be put somewhere their actions can’t hurt anyone else. Sometimes, if the act is bad enough, that means killing them. In Tennessee corporations can now kill at will without fear of ever being placed out of business by a lawsuit.
The next time you pass a graveyard thank the Governor, your Tennessee legislator, and the Chamber of Commerce. With the new law they passed protecting those companies that habitually maim and kill, the death and injury rate for the common person in Tennessee is going to go up, and our graveyards are going to fill.