Truckers and logistics companies have been hit hard by rampant nuclear verdicts, the slang term for legal settlements that exceed $10 million. The phrase has been quite popular in lawsuits involving trucking companies and drivers who face that punishment in incidents involving deaths and severe injuries.
On Feb. 22, the Iowa Senate passed File 228, a piece of legislation that would place a cap on “non-economic damages” in verdicts of $2 million dollars. The original amount set was to be $1 million but was doubled in cross-party negotiations.
Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium of a spouse or a parent’s loss of a child. This has angered many safety groups, who ask how the government can put a price tag on a person’s life.
Opponents of the bill say the bill is not about Iowa’s trucking industry as the bill covers all incidents inside the state’s borders and not just those companies domiciled in Iowa. Those backing the bill did pass an amendment to add more types of vehicles to the protected group.
An opposing amendment that would require trucking companies to show proper training practices was voted down. The bill passed the Senate 30-19 and now moves to the House where it will be reconciled with a bill already passed there.
Sen. Mike Bousselot (R-Ankeny), the manager of the bill, said that the bill’s purpose is to not devalue human life but to target the trial lawyers who profit off of these cases and provide insurance stability to the trucking industry.
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