Monday, January 16, 2006

Subsequent Remedial Apologies?

Vermont is discussing various tort reform measures, mostly in the context of medical malpractice.  The linked-to story is interesting for a number of reasons, including the fact that the commission set up by the legislature -- made up of plaintiffs' lawyers, physicians, medical industry representatives, insurance representatives, and so on -- is (surprise!) not agreeing on much.

What caught my eye, though, was this proposal:

The [Vermont] Medical Society is backing a range of reforms, including a "safe apology'' system under which doctors and hospitals can acknowledge errors without having that acknowledgment used against them in court . . . .

This is evidently not a completely new proposal, though it's new to me (this Tennessean story indicates that Colorado has a so-called "I'm sorry" law).  The idea, presumably, is the research and other writing that indicates that apologies can deter litigation or at least reduce animus and, presumably, settlement costs.

Edit: My colleague Barbara Noah suggests I link to the work of Jonathan Cohen at the University of Florida College of Law.  Good idea.  He's done a lot of work on apology.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2006/01/subsequent_reme.html

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