LITTLE ROCK - Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to limit damages in medical lawsuits and attorney contingency fees have met the signature threshold to place the measure on the November ballot, the secretary of state’s office said Friday.
In a letter to Little Rock lawyer Dan Greenberg, Director of Elections Leslie Bellamy said the secretary of state’s office determined that at least 92,997 of the signatures submitted in support of the measure are valid. Supporters needed 84,859 signatures for ballot access.
If approved by voters, the measure would direct the state Legislature to set a cap of no less than $250,000 on non-economic damages against health-care providers and limit trial lawyer’s contingency fees to 33 1/3 percent.
“We, along with Arkansans from every corner of this state, are pleased this amendment has made the ballot this November,” Chase Dugger of Beebe, executive director of the ballot question committee Health Care Access for Arkansans, said in a statement Friday.
“Arkansans are concerned about our state being one of the 10 worst states in the nation for lawsuit abuse, and the impact predatory attorneys have on patients’ health care, medical professionals, hospitals, and clinics in our state. Now, they will have an opportunity to address this concern in November,” he said.
The Committee to Protect AR Families, a ballot question committee formed to oppose the measure, will urge voters to reject the amendment, said Martha Deaver of Conway, one of the committee’s directors.
Deaver, who also is president of Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents, said the proposal seeks to protect the bottom line of nursing home owners and take away the rights of nursing home residents who have been harmed and the families of nursing home residents who have died because of abuse or neglect.
“This is an attack on the justice system and will protect people who are abusing our elderly family members,” she said.
The election will be Nov. 8.