There has been a rising interest in reducing the protections afforded by laws, both at the state level in Arkansas as well as at the national level with new legislation working its way through Congress. Two proposed bills directly aim to limit consumer protections by impacting how consumers can hold companies accountable when they’ve caused harm.
Arkansas’ SRJ8 is a supposed tort reform bill that aims to limit the amount Arkansans would be able to receive in a lawsuit. This potentially affects cases related to civil actions, including medical malpractice, accident and injuries, premises liability and product liability, and essentially puts a price on the lives of Arkansans and takes away the right to a jury trial in tort cases.
The Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association recently spoke out about this bill to encourage Arkansans to speak with their representatives, outlining the bill’s goals:
SJR8 is extremely dangerous for Arkansans because it takes away our 7th Amendment right to fight back by:
- Putting a price tag on life
- Preventing juries from holding harmful entities accountable for causing harm
- Giving lobbyists and politicians control of our courts
- Taking away our right to hire the legal representation we need to protect ourselves from corporate interests and insurance companies
SRJ8 would directly limit the ability of lawyers to fight for consumer and individual rights.
On the national level, there are new bills reaching the floor that will make it nearly impossible for consumers to recover finances lost in Ponzi schemes. Representative Bob Goodlatte sponsored a bill that recently passed through the House Judiciary Committee titled the “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act.” Opposed by hundreds of civil rights groups and other advocates for justice, the bill will do tremendous harm in limiting consumer protections.
In an article examining the bill, Paul Bland of Public Justice wrote an explanation of what the bill aims to do:
Goodlatte’s bill was drafted by corporate lobbyists to eliminate the vast majority of class action lawsuits. It would roll back protections for defrauded investors, cheated consumers, people whose privacy has been violated, small businesses harmed by price fixing, workers cheated by wage theft, and pretty much anyone harmed in any way by corporations that break the law.
Regardless of whether these bills become laws both in Arkansas and nationally, it’s clear that consumer protections are under fire in our current political climate.