On Tort Reform & Maggio’s Guilty Plea

Circuit Judge Michael Maggio has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes — which came in the form of campaign contributions while he was vying for the Arkansas Court of Appeals — in exchange for reducing a nursing home negligence verdict.

The nursing home lawsuit involved the death of Martha Bull, who died in 2008 at the Greenbrier Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, owned by Michael Morton. Maggio reduced the plaintiff’s verdict from $5.2 million to $1 million, and in turn his fundraiser received checks from lobbyist and former Senator Gilbert Baker. Morton has admitted that his contributions to Maggio’s campaign were mailed to Senator Baker’s home.

So what does this mean for tort reform in Arkansas?

It means that the voting public should be informed about these unethical actions and how far some people will go to help out corporations and business magnates over the little guy. Morton himself was one of the leaders of a massive tort reform movement in 2013, which aimed to limit damages in death and injury cases and snatch control of the rules of law from the Arkansas Supreme Court. If Morton, Gilbert, and Maggio had their way, Arkansas citizens’ civil and constitutional rights would be at the mercy of money and greed.