DES MOINES, IOWA — Just over a month ago the Iowa Senate passed a tort reform bill for trucking companies in the state and the Iowa House voted on that legislation on Tuesday.

The bill was amended and voted through the House by a vote of 58 to 42. The amendment would raise the cap of lawsuit damage awards to $5 million for Iowans injured in crashes and motor vehicles; the Senate’s version only had it at $2 million.

The amendment also exempted trucking companies from liability for negligence in hiring employees, but keeps the language of not exempting them when it relates to negligence in training their employees.

“I want to first acknowledge that the bill amended today is significantly better than the bill that was passed through subcommittee,” said Iowa State Representative Sami Scheetz, (D), District 78 from Cedar Rapids, “…but folks this is still a terrible bill.”

Scheetz listed examples of times litigation became necessary for families suffering these tragic instances, but pointed out that it is because a lawsuit was needed, not wanted. A House Republican who voted against the bill spoke out and shared a story about a family member who died in a crash with a commercial vehicle.

“My family did not win the lottery, they did not see this as an opportunity to cash in, we didn’t sue. Our family, our community, we had been through enough,” said Iowa State Representative Megan Jones, (R), District 6 from Clay County. “My family made that decision and I can remember being told it just wasn’t the right thing to do.”

House Republicans still had the votes to push it through the House in a floor vote. The bill moves back to the Senate to vote on the new damages award amendment. The bill sponsor gave specific examples of nuclear verdicts in his closing remarks.

“A trucking company in eastern Iowa, a truck driver involved in an accident it was not the truck driver’s fault the other vehicle caused the accident and was cited for the accident. The passenger in the other vehicle died, the truck driver died,” said Iowa State Representative Bill Gustoff, (R), District 40, from Saylor Township. “…And the company was still sued…the insurance company forced a settlement for over $4 million because they feared the nuclear verdict.”