AZ Lawmaker Wants to Amend Constitution to Impose Damage Cap

side note: Conservative Arizona lawmakers are trying to remove obstacles that forbid the General Assembly from imposing caps on the amount of money recoverable for non-economic and punitive damages. Those obstacles are Article 2 sec. 31 and Article 18 sec. 6 of Arizona’s constitution, which specifically prohibit limiting recoverable damages. In short, the two articles read: “No law shall be enacted in this state limiting the amount of damages to be recovered for causing the death or injury of any person,” and “The right of action to recover damages for injuries shall never be abrogated, and the amount recovered shall not be subject to any statutory limitation.”

What Rep. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, is recommending is a constitutional amendment that would grant lawmakers the ability to set arbitrary caps on non-economic and punitive damages, which would require a ballot initiative for ratification. Similar attempts to repeal the provision prohibiting damage caps were made in 1986 and 1994. Both times, the ballot initiatives failed.

Making the chance of Harper’s plan to repeal Article 2 sec. 31 and Article 18 sec. 6 of Arizona’s constitution even less likely is his proposal itself. Harper doesn’t want to tell voters where the Assembly would set limits; instead, he wants the Assembly to be given power to set the cap wherever it sees fit. Basically, he wants a blank check. In a state already suspicious of government influence, I’d say Harper’s proposal has about the same chance of passing as the proverbial snowball in hell.

Two state legislators want changes to sections of the Arizona Constitution that govern how much businesses and others have to pay when a jury finds they’re liable for killing or injuring someone.

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