Arkansas’ highest court ordered election officials to not count votes for a proposal to limit damages awarded in civil lawsuits. Justices upheld a state judge’s ruling that the ballot measure limiting civil lawsuit damages unconstitutionally combined separate proposals. The measure also would have given the Legislature control over court rules in the state. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled on the ballot measures days before early voting begins for the Nov. 6 midterm election.
The ballot measure blocked by the court would have capped civil damages at $500,000 for noneconomic losses, such as pain and psychological distress. It would cap punitive damages at $500,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded, whichever is higher. It also would cap attorneys’ contingency fees at one-third of the net amount recovered.
“We see this as a win for the people of the state of Arkansas, that the constitution has meaning and it supports people’s rights,” said Jeff Priebe, an attorney for the retired judge challenging the measure.
The proposal had faced opposition from many Christian conservatives, including a group that rallied churches and abortion opponents against the measure.