Friday, May 5, 2006
The text of the Senate bill is now available.
What it does, in short and occasionally oversimplified form:
- Imposes a statute of limitations of either three years after "manifestation of injury" or one year after either actual or constructive discovery of the injury, whichever is first (with exceptions for fraud, intentional concealment, or Bad Things left in the plaintiff's body;
- Explicitly requires Rule 11 sanctions in med mal cases to include attorney fees;
- Caps noneconomic damages at $250K per provider and institution (edit: with a $250K limit on damages versus providers no matter how many and $500K versus institutions no matter how many), and overall to $750K (not $500K, as I previously had it) (and bars the jury from being informed of the caps);
- Requires proof by clear and convincing evidence (using enumerated factors and  a showing of either malice or something like reckless indifference)) to obtain punitive damages, and caps them at double compensatories or $250K, whichever is greater;
- Requires (for judgments over $50K) structured payouts (edit: to be available on request);
- Eliminates joint & several liability;
- Eliminates the collateral source rule;
- Limits contingent fee percentages on a sliding scale, starting with a maximum of 40 percent and ending at 15% for any damages over $600,000;
- Limits expert witnesses to (more or less) physicians in the same specialty;
- Immunizes in products suits physicians prescribing FDA-approved drugs for approved indications (note that this will, if adopted, make many more pharma suits removable and will probably result in many more sales reps and other random nondiverse parties being added to avoid diversity); and
- Attempts to avoid or mitigate obvious federalism concerns by disavowing preemptive effects in certain categories.
This was a quickly-done list; corrections and additions are welcome. (Some from the comments are reflected above.)