The Ottumwa Courier

Opinion

May 25, 2013

Damage caps at work

After several days of eyewitness testimony and evidence, a dedicated Iowa jury determined that the 32 mentally disabled men who were mistreaded, abused and from whom wages and government benefits were taken by Henry’s Turkey Service and its employees were entitled to an award of $7.5 million each. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission admitted that the award was “an appropriate and meaningful measure of the actual harm suffered” by these men.

These injured citizens will never receive the full and fair compensation determined reasonable by this jury because politicians arbitrarily decided that any injured person who pursues this kind of lawsuit, no matter how egregious the circumstances or how great the actual injury, should never receive more than $50,000 apiece. Hello “tort reform.”

The cap on damages in the Henry’s case, like all damage caps, overrules the will of the jury and imposes a one-size-fits-all damage cap decided by government, not the people for whom they serve. We all would do well to remember this case the next time you hear a group or politician argue that damages in lawsuits should be arbitrarily capped.

Who do you trust more to decide whether you have been wronged or mistreated and the amount of your damage, a jury of your peers or the government? “Tort reform” and damage caps are in reality just another way for government to take greater control of our lives while confiscating our constitutional rights to trial by jury of our fellow citizens.

Steven Gardner

Denefe, Gardner & Zingg, P.C.

Ottumwa

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