The Arkansas Supreme Court has blocked Issue 1, a ballot measure limiting lawsuit damages, from the November ballots. The court also rejected an attempt to disqualify a measure to raise Arkansas’ minimum wage.
On Thursday, Oct. 18, state Supreme Court justices ruled that election officials should not count any votes for or against Issue 1 during the election. According to the justices, Issue 1 combined two distinct measures and did not meet state Constitutional guidelines.
Under the proposed amendment, attorneys’ contingency fees and damages awarded in civil lawsuits would be limited. The contingency fees would have been limited to one-third of the net recovery, and punitive damages would be limited to either $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages in a lawsuit.
Issue 1 would also have granted the state legislature power to amend or repeal judicial rules and decisions. As a tort reform measure, Issue 1 would allow the legislature to amend procedural rules in the judicial system.
In September, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce disqualified Issue 1 from the ballot. He ruled that the proposed amendment violated constitutionality by combining separate measures into one proposal.
In addition, the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit that aimed to block an effort to increase the minimum wage. The measure is designed to increase the minimum wage to $11 by 2021; it is currently $8.50.