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Occupy Nashville Gets Eviction Notice

The Haslam administration gave Occupy Nashville protesters seven days to clear out on Friday, renewing an effort to remove the group’s encampment at the Tennessee Capitol five months after it moved in last fall.
From Chas Sisk’s report:
Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill Friday morning banning unauthorized camping on public grounds, and administration officials moved immediately to put the law into effect, posting 120 signs at state buildings across Tennessee officially warning that campers could be prosecuted.
The administration said it would begin enforcing the new law, which punishes unauthorized camping with up to a $2,500 fine or nearly a year in jail, next week. The law applies to any state property, but it was passed in response to the winter-long encampment by Occupy Nashville protesters on War Memorial Plaza at the state Capitol.
“Although the legislation calls for an immediate prohibition of unauthorized camping on state property, we believe a seven day notification period, beginning today, is an appropriate time frame to make sure the word gets out,” General Services Commissioner Steve Cates said in a statement.

News release below.

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Tort Reform Bill Signed in Ceremony at Capitol

By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A measure to cap payouts for medical malpractice and other civil cases is good for business in Tennessee, said Gov. Bill Haslam, who signed the bill Thursday.
The law places a $750,000 cap on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. The cap will be raised to $1 million in cases involving serious spinal cord injuries, severe burns or the death of a parent of minor children.
Punitive damages are capped at twice the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
“We wanted to make sure we did everything we could to protect victims’ rights, but also have a predictable playing field for businesses,” said the Republican governor.
Valerie Nagoshiner, acting director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Tennessee, said the law should help.
“Small businesses are especially vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits,” Nagoshiner said in a release. “It’s hard enough for them to defend themselves against even the weakest of claims, but one outrageous jury award or one frivolous lawsuit can be the difference between a small, family-owned business staying open or closing for good.”
Critics say the law weakens company accountability. They say juries should decide damages.
“Everyone should be held accountable when they make a mistake,” said Democratic Sen. Andy Berke of Chattanooga. “All our jury system does is ensure that we have a fair way to judge that. Unfortunately, too often in our society we are seeing personal responsibility and accountability go by the wayside.”
Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, agreed.
“Damage awards act as a deterrent and make large corporations think twice about repeating egregious acts that can lead to abuse, neglect, and death,” she said. “This bill takes away the right of victims to have their full day in court and the right of juries to hold accountable responsible parties as they see fit.”

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