Behrens Explains Tennessee Decision on Damages Cap

Shook Public Policy Group Co-Chair Mark Behrens has authored an article for the Federalist Society explaining a Tennessee Supreme Court decision upholding "the state’s $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in personal injury cases ($1 million for 'catastrophic loss or injury')." Behrens details the court's decision, which "concluded that the cap satisfies the Tennessee Constitution’s right to a trial by jury, separation of powers, and equal protection provisions."

"The court concluded that the cap does not violate the Tennessee Constitution’s right to a trial by jury," Behrens explains. "The court said that the right to jury trial is satisfied 'when an unbiased and impartial jury makes a factual determination regarding the amount of noneconomic damages, if any, sustained by the plaintiff.' Once the jury satisfies that role, the trial judge 'then applies, as a matter of law determined by the legislature, the statutory cap on noneconomic damages in entering the final judgment.' The right to a jury trial 'does not entitle a plaintiff to any particular cause of action or any particular remedy.' The court found 'persuasive the reasoning from many [other state supreme courts] that similarly concluded that statutory caps on damages do not violate a plaintiff’s right trial by jury.'"