Appellate Practice

Arkansas Supreme Court Evades Review of Civil Justice Reform Act

Shipp was involved in a car wreck with Franklin and filed a lawsuit against him. Franklin filed a third-party complaint against Sanders, and Shipp amended her complaint to include Sanders as a defendant. Prior to trial, Shipp settled with Sanders. The remainder of the case proceeded to trial, with the jury finding Sanders 100% responsible for the accident.

On appeal, Shipp raised two constitutional challenges to the Civil Justice Reform Act. First, Shipp challenged the compensatory damages statute, which provides that the plaintiff can only present evidence of medical expenses that the plaintiff actually paid. See A.C.A. § 16-55-212. Shipp claims this statute violates the well-established collateral-source rule.

Second, Shipp challenged A.C.A. § 16-55-201, which provides that, for personal injury, the liability of each defendant is several only and not joint. Shipp claimed this statute improperly invades the power of the Arkansas Supreme Court to set rules of procedure.

The court decided not to address these questions on grounds of mootness. Because the jury returned a verdict finding Sanders 100% responsible, the case did not present joint tortfeasors to trigger analysis of these statutes. The jury verdict was affirmed.