2018 Arkansas Ballot Issue 1 – Contingency Fees, Lawsuit Damages and Rules of Court

(Kristin) Issue one is a proposed constitutional
amendment that would change four parts of the Arkansas Constitution. I’ll walk you through the proposed changes
but check out our voter guide that goes into more detail about each issue. This proposal would prohibit attorneys from
receiving a contingency fee that is more than one-third the amount of money that a client
receives in a lawsuit. What is it contingency fee? It’s payment an attorney receives only if
a lawsuit is won, unlike a fixed fee that a client owes regardless of the cases outcome. Issue one would also limit an injured person
or their beneficiary to receiving a maximum of $500,000 from lawsuits for things like
pain and suffering or poor quality of life after an injury death or damage to property. Punitive damages in lawsuits would also be
limited. The amount would be the greater of five hundred
thousand dollars or three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded. The legislature would have the authority to
increase these limits in the future. Punitive damages are awarded in lawsuits to
punish and deter wrongful behavior. Issue one would also give state senators and
representatives more authority to create change or delete Court rules. Currently the state Supreme Court has that
authority. The number of state legislators required to
make changes to court rules would be lowered from two-thirds to three-fifths under this
amendment. More detailed information about this issue can be found in our voter guide available at uaex.edu/ballot

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