There is a drastic need for tort reform in this Country, which heralds itself as a free and “just” nation. In fact, certain special interests have taken freedom from the people and taken justice out of the hands of juries. Juries sit in civil trials around this country while blindfolded…not as the ‘scales of justice’ but pawns in a system that has been degraded by special interests, mainly a combination of big business, insurance companies and professional organizations that have mislead our Legislative leaders. Colorado is one of the ‘shining examples’ of tort reform, in an effort to protect the health care industry and create a sheltered environment for big businesses. The People of Colorado need to initiate some tort reform to get back their rights. Here is my list of the Top Injustices in Civil Law…information that is withheld from juries by the Courts during civil jury trials:
Juries can award any amount they deem fair for ‘general damages’ such as pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, interference with marital relations, and disfigurement. NOT TRUE. Juries are not told that the law caps what we call ‘non-economic damages’ and trial judges revise jury verdicts AFTER TRIAL to conform to the meager caps set by the Legislature under the influence of the special interests. For example, a child horribly deformed and brain damaged, even paralyzed, can get no more than $300,000 in non-economic damages in Colorado if the claim is against a health care provider, or $468,010 if against a big corporation not in health care cases. Here is the link to the Colorado Secretary of State certification (pursuant to the laws) on damages caps that are juries are NOT INFORMED even exist: Certificate of Limitations on Damages. I have had numerous cases where juries awarded large but fair amounts for non-economic losses, thinking they were rendering a fair verdict (and taking these damages into account when awarding other categories of damages for the total verdict amount), only to have these damages ‘adjusted’ by the trial court after trial. The jury leaves the courtroom thinking its ‘award’ is law, but it is just a sham.
The justification for this law is to avoid ‘runaway’ juries, but the judges in this Country already had the authority to reduce damage awards when it felt the jury was influenced by bias, sympathy or prejudice. The common law rule is called ‘remittitur’ and and it has been in place, as a form of oversight on juries, for hundreds of years. The special interests convinced Legislative leaders that these damage caps were needed due to judges not doing the right thing. Why not throw the bad judges out? Why penalize every victim of injury or death for the sake of ‘oversight’ of the trial process? Such rules are bad law need to be thrown out. Lawyers try to combat these rules by emphasizing economic damages, but the law is strict about proof of future economic damages and juries are generally aware that insurance companies are often the real party in interest for past and future medical bills so they undercut them thinking if they award general damages the money will go to the injured party instead of the insurance company. Not so.
Surviving family members get reasonable damages for the death of a child or elderly person. NOT TRUE. One of the caps on damages in many states, including for example, Colorado, is for damages to the death of a child, elderly person or other person without dependents. The law in Colorado limits damages for ‘solatium’ (as in cases for the death of a child or elderly person) to $68,250. You don’t read about too many cases involving the death of a child or injury to elderly in Colorado, because lawyers cannot afford to bring these cases due to this egregiously low cap on damages. So doctor or big corporations can seriously injure or kill children or elderly and there is often no recourse.