Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce has disqualified the ballot measure known as Issue 1, which would limit the damages awarded in civil lawsuits and would give the state Legislature control over court rules.
Pierce ruled that the proposal lawmakers put on the November ballot violates the state’s constitution by combining disparate measures into one amendment.
The proposed amendment caps noneconomic and punitive damages awarded in lawsuits and also places limits on attorneys’ contingency fees.
Pierce ordered state election official to not count any votes that are cast on the proposal.
Secretary of State Mark Martin said the office plans to appeal the ruling, citing the expectation do so by the Legislature, which voted to place Issue One on the ballot in 2017. “I am confident that our Supreme Court will ultimately let the people decide,” said Carl Vogelpohl, campaign manager for Arkansans for Jobs and Justice. “Because this case began in the lower court, today’s ruling is simply a step in the process of presenting the case to the Supreme Court.”
A former judge filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ballot measure.