Anti-tort reform group raises more than $400,000 from 18 lawyers and law firms

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 199 views 

The group opposing a ballot initiative to limit attorneys’ fees and to allow the Legislature to cap noneconomic damages reported raising $420,430 in July from 18 lawyers and law firms.

The Committee to Protect AR Families opposes an amendment would direct the Legislature to set a cap of at least $250,000 for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering in medical injury lawsuits and would limit trial lawyer contingency fees at 33 1/3 percent after expenses. The amendment would not affect economic or punitive damages and would not apply to workers’ compensation cases.

It formed July 12 and reported spending $7,714.66 during July.

The following lawyers and law firms donated to the Committee, according to its filing with the Arkansas Ethics Commission.
Joey McCutchen, Fort Smith, $100,000
McDaniel Law Firm, Little Rock, $100,000
Simmons Hanley Conroy, Illinois, $75,000
Brad Hendricks, Little Rock, $50,000
Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, Little Rock, $50,000
Paul Byrd, Little Rock, $10,000
Barron & Tucker, Little Rock, $9,900
Thomas G. Buchanan PLLC, Little Rock, $6,000
Odom Law Firm, Fayetteville, $5,000
Joseph D. Gates, Little Rock, $5,000
Jason M. Hatfield, Fayetteville, $2,500
Don R. Elliott Jr., Fayetteville, $2,500
Terry D. Dugger, Alexander, $1,000
John Patterson, P.A., Searcy, $1,000
Robin Smith, Mt. Ida, $1,000
Fogleman, Rogers & Coe, West Memphis, $500
Justin C. Zachary, Little Rock, $500
Cearley Law Firm, Little Rock, $500

Martha Deaver, the Committee’s director, said in a press release, “We are working to preserve Arkansans’ rights to hold these corporate nursing home owners accountable when they abuse and neglect people. I am honored to lead this fight and appreciate the legal community for helping our initial fundraising efforts. They have been instrumental in fighting the corrupt nursing home owners and their high-paid lobbyists while protecting Arkansans’ rights to a trial by jury.”

Supporters of the amendment, Health Care Access for Arkansans, reported raising $313,110 in May and $293,500 in June, for a total of $606,610. It has not yet filed its July report.

The Arkansas Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, donated $330,000 to the effort those two months. Another $154,000 was donated by entities listed as “skilled nursing facility.” In addition, Reliance Health Care, a nursing home company with 38 locations in Arkansas, donated $50,000 in May. Southern Administrative Services, a Louisiana-based administrative services provider, donated $46,000 in June.

When the proposed amendment qualified for the ballot Aug. 5, the initiative’s executive director, Chase Dugger, released a statement saying, ”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.”

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