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Consumer advocates call tort reform bill “horrendous” (video)

Discussion will resume next week on House Bill 542, a sweeping tort reform bill that covers product liability, medical malpractice, and even attorneys fees.

In Thursday’s committee hearing, Dick Taylor of the NC Advocates for Justice said the bill as written “favors perpetrators of harm to others, at the expense of innocent North Carolinians.”

The President of the North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians (NCCEP) explained to lawmakers that emergency doctors, making split-second decisions, need tort reform and better protection from malpractice suits.

AARP‘s Bill Wilson said capping non-economic damages at $250,000 would simply prevent those injured by medical errors from receiving fair compensation. Wilson noted the bill would also prevent adults who are retired or  disabled from receiving economic damages beyond just the medical costs.

Womble Carlyle attorney Fred Rom urged legislators to move forward with H542 to bring the regulatory and judicial system into accord.

But Janet Ward Black, a liability attorney from Greensboro, told legislators the bill before them would effectively protect wrongdoing, making it very difficult for North Carolina citizens who had been injured to seek compensation from manufacturers or corporations.

To hear the full exchange, click below:

9 Comments


  1. […] Consumer advocates call tort remodel check “horrendous” (video) […]

  2. Alex

    April 1, 2011 at 7:02 am

    If you really want to reduce healthcare costs, the only option is to finally do meaningful tort reform. It is not an either or situation as some people try to portray it.

  3. […] Consumer advocates call tort remodel check “horrendous” (video) […]

  4. WAFranklin

    April 1, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Tort reform, as used in medical malpractice, is a trojan horse for the rest of industries who want to legally avoid liabilities for their deeds. In fact, corporate use of tools such as mandatory binding arbitration (which also denies you your day in court) is designed to rein people wronged by firms. If they can get medical malpractice “tort reform” (which it aint) then it is easier to extend it to other areas of business — and yes, medicine is a plain old business. Try not paying the doctor or hospital – they got some real junk yard dog collectors who will ruin you! This is another republican scam which the doctors have glommed onto and some even believe it. Malpractice takes place with less than 5% of practicing professionals. So rather than surgically exise these perpetrators, they want to kill off the options of everyone. Money will buy you anything, particularly in the Republican legislature. After all, Art Pope, Fred Eschelman and others bought the entire NC General Assembly.

  5. Alex

    April 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

    It’s easy to blame everything on politics, and not face the facts. It has been shown in numerous studies that healthcare providers incur at least 15 % of their costs in order to practice defensive medicine. Extra staff , ultra expensive diagnostic tools, and duplicative testing all run up the cost of healthcare just to defend from many unwarranted suits brought on by greedy attorneys looking to make a fast buck. Jury trials tend to make excessive judgments running up the cost of malpractice coverage to unbelievable levels for many physicians. You should look to the attorneys , and not the politicians as the real cause of this problem.

  6. gregflynn

    April 1, 2011 at 9:52 am

    There are enough bad things happening to people that attorneys get to pick and choose among the warranted cases. They don’t have to make stuff up. It’s amusing how uptight free marketeers get in the market for legal services. I don’t agree with anomalously high settlements but I don’t agree with grabbing the pendulum when it swings to the opposite side either.

  7. Jack

    April 1, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Big business is protected from paying its fair share of taxes and receives our tax dollars for bail outs when it fails. Yet, when the average American needs protection through the court system they want to deny us of the same protection they enjoy.

    From the Triangle Shirtwaist fire to the Hamlet, NC fire to striping away collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin big business and politicians have and are showing who and what they truly are.

    Remember, businesses have bean-counters weighting the cost of letting an endangerment continue or if the business can absorb the cost in human lives.

  8. Robert Oshel

    April 1, 2011 at 11:31 am

    If you really want to do something about health care costs, tort reform isn’t the answer. Doing something to prevent the torts in the first place would help, though.

    National Practitioner Data Bank Public Use File data show that in NC over the last 20 years just over 1 percent of all physicians were responsible for over half of all the money paid out for malpractice! And fewer than 9 percent of these few physicians who caused the bulk of the malpractice problem had any action taken against their license by the medical board and fewer than 5 percent had any hospital action against their clinical privileges.

    Rather than protecting physicians from the the economic consequences of their malpractice, we need to protect patients from the few physicians who cause most of the problem. The licensing board and the peer review committees need to start being a lot more vigorous in protecting the public.

    As long as nothing is done to reduce malpractice in the first place all tort reform will do is shift the costs of malpractice from the physicians who cause it to the innocent victims, their health insurers, and the taxpayers.

  9. Razia

    April 2, 2011 at 1:01 am

    A lot of states want to pass tort reform that states that an emergency room doctor cannot be sued for a medical malpractice insurance claim unless you can prove gross negligence. (see http://www.equotemd.com/blog ) Texas did this and there are basically no emergency medicine medical malpractice insurance claims. It seems extremely far fetched that this is right. ER rates are not even that high compared to most specialties

    Razia.

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