Apparently no one told these guys this statute already HAS a damage cap.
Here are some undeniable facts about this statute, which has been on the books since 1987:
- You can only get punitive damages in very, very narrow circumstances.
- You can’t get pain and suffering damages under any circumstances.
- You can’t get emotional distress damages under any circumstances.
- You can’t get more than 4 years of lost wages and fringe benefits under any circumstances.
- The jury can award you less than 4 years of lost wages.
- The jury must deduct from your damages any amounts you actually made by promptly getting a new job.
- The jury can find that you should have got a new job, even if you didn’t or couldn’t, and then they take that off your damages as well.
- The jury can even award you less than 4 years of lost wages and also deduct the wages they think you would have earned at a new job they think you could have had if you tried hard enough.
These are all straight-up facts about the current, unamended statute. Now for a few opinions.
Every case is different. That’s why we have jury trials instead of legislative trials. Before 1987, a jury could award all the damages you could prove in one of these cases. The 1987 legislation permitted this type of lawsuit to continue but capped the damages at 4 years. As is usually the case with compromises, the 1987 compromise made both sides mad.
We have three separate branches of government and a system of checks and balances for a reason. The role of legislators is to legislate. It isn’t to elbow into the jury room and substitute their own one-size-fits-all judgment — formed ahead of time without knowing any of the specific facts of the particular case at issue, and probably before any of those facts have even happened yet — for the deliberations of the people who have actually heard the case-specific evidence and sworn to render a fair decision about it.