The Washington Post reported last week on Republican efforts to pass federal tort reform in Congress. Proponents of the bills espouse the same untrue talking points that the Chamber has been saying for over a decade.
The bill that is getting the most attention is one that would cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases at $250,000. Why is this needed? To stop frivolous lawsuits, according to the bill’s proponents.
This reasoning makes no sense. Unfortunately, reporters never ask how capping damages in the cases with the most merit will deter frivolous lawsuits.
Capping non-economic damages at $250,000 is not much different than capping them at $0. The math of a medical malpractice case doesn’t work from the plaintiff’s side with a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. There will be no medical malpractice lawsuits within 10 years if this bill passes.
I have no idea where all these terrible medical malpractice lawsuits are happening. Certainly not in Mississippi, where the $500,000 cap combined with ‘tort reformed’ juries has killed the practice area.
I’m not certain at all that the medical community would vote to abolish medical malpractice lawsuits. This and other tort reform bills are being pushed by professional tort reformers–people whose job it is to lobby for tort reform. Lobbyists have turned into the most powerful people in Washington.
Long term, I foresee a public backlash on this kind of stuff. But I don’t see it happening during my career.
The other day I was talking to a lawyer about the question of where the age line is for Mississippi litigators in private practice. Above a certain age, it’s probably best to try to stick it out and squeeze as many more decent years out as possible. Below a certain age, it’s probably best to find an in-house job and/or move. We decided somewhere in the 40’s.