Friday, April 18, 2014

AK: Apology Immunity Bill Passes

The Alaska legislature has passed an apology immunity bill.  As is typical with many of these bills, it distinguishes between admissions, which remain admissible, and expressions of sympathy, which would become inadmissible.  The bill cleared the House last week and was passed unanimously in the Senate on Wednesday.  The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner has a brief story.

--CJR 

April 18, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

FL: Task Force That Recommended Med Mal Cap Endorses Constitutional Amendment

In 2002, then-Governor Jeb Bush appointed 5 members to a panel to advise about an alleged med mal crisis.  The panel recommended med mal caps on non-economic damages.  In 2003, the legislature passed a cap; the Florida Supreme Court invalidated that cap earlier this year.  In the wake of that decision, the 5 members of the panel are urging a constitutional amendment to put the cap on firm legal ground.  It is unlikely the legislature will take up such an amendment in this session.  The Miami Herald has details.

--CJR

April 17, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

LA: Bill to Drop $50K Limit for Jury Trial Voted Down by House

Two weeks ago, I reported that a bill to remove the $50K minimum to request a jury trial had passed a key committee vote in the House.  Today the full House voted the bill down 51-49, with 5 members not voting.  Some members of the business committee blame high insurance rates on the high threshold, arguing that plaintiffs would claim, and businesses would pay, lower amounts if not aiming at a $50K minimum.  Opponents reply that no evidence regarding lower insurance rates has been produced and lowering the threshold would potentially strain judicial resources.

--CJR

April 16, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

KS: Conference Committee Adopts Increase in Med Mal Cap; No Collateral Source Reform

Late last month, I reported that the Kansas legislature was going to conference committee to raise the med mal cap.  Both the House and Senate adopted a gradual increase of the med mal cap on non-economic damages from $250K to $350K.  The difference between the two was over the collateral source rule.  The Senate version would have allowed jurors to hear testimony about whether a plaintiff's damages were covered by insurance; the House version did not alter the collateral source rule.  The final version sent to Governor Brownback for his signature does not include collateral source reform.  The history of SB 311 is here.

--CJR

April 10, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

LA: Bill to Drop $50K Minimum for Jury Trial

A bill has passed a key committee vote in the Louisiana House to remove the $50K minimum to request a jury trial.  The bill now heads to the full House.  The Times Picayune has details.

--CJR

April 2, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tort Reform Today: Two Prominent Politicians Take Positions

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer endorses a proposed ballot initiative to raise the MICRA cap.  (Reuters)

Meanwhile, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad endorses "tort reform" broadly.  (The Des Moines Register)

--CJR

April 1, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

KS: Conference Committee Selected for Raising Non-Economic Damages Cap

The Kansas Senate and House have passed similar bills to gradually raise the non-economic damages cap in personal injury cases from $250K to $350K.  The major difference between the bills concerns the collateral source rule.  The Senate version would allow jurors to hear testimony about whether a plaintiff's damages were covered by insurance; the House struck that provision.  A conference committee has been selected.  The Kansas Health Institute has coverage.

--CJR 

March 27, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tort Reform in Louisiana

The Lousiana Legsilative session began last Monday, and a bunch of tort reform bills have been introduced: 

  • HB 799 - prohibiting contingency fees in outside counsel contracts
  • HB 482 & 483 - venue in latent disease cases 
  • HB 917 - lowering the monetary threshold required for a jury trial to $0
  • HB 925 & SB 414 - regulation of the lawsuit lending industry

Coalition for Common Sense has links to the bills and a summary of the bills' status.

- SBS

March 18, 2014 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

FL: Med Mal Caps in Wrongful Death Cases Unconstitutional

Today the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Florida's med mal caps violate the state constitution's equal protection clause, at least as applied to wrongful death cases.  The Miami Herald has the story.

--CJR 

March 13, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 7, 2014

MO: House Passes Med Mal Cap

The full Missouri House approved a $350K cap in med mal cases yesterday in front of an audience of doctors packing the galleries.  The bill now moves on to the Senate.  The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch has the story.

--CJR

March 7, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tort Reform in the Midwest

Earlier this month, I reported that a $350K med mal cap on non-economic damages was voted out of committee in the Missouri House.  The full House has now given the bill preliminary approval; one more positive vote will send it to the Senate.  OzarksFirst.com has the story.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, legislation advanced in the Senate that would raise that state's cap on non-economic damages in personal injury cases from $250K to $300K in July, $325K in July 2018, and $350K in July 2022.  As part of a compromise, other changes would be implemented, including giving judges discretion to limit testimony from purported experts and allowing juries to consider whether people suing over their injuries have insurance or other forms of compensation.  The cap change proposals were spurred by statements from the Kansas Supreme Court that it was troubling the cap had not been adjusted for inflation since its passage in 1988.  The San Francisco Chronicle has the story

--CJR

February 28, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 21, 2014

KY: Senate Passes Med Mal Review Panel Bill

The Kentucky Senate, on a 23-13 party-line vote, approved a bill requiring med mal complaints to be taken to a panel of experts to determine whether there was a violation of the standard of care prior to being litigated in court.  The panel's finding would be admissible in the trial unless new substantial evidence were discovered after the report.  Previous iterations of this proposal have failed in the Kentucky House.  Many jurisdictions have similar laws.  The Courier-Journal has the details.

--CJR

February 21, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

IA: Governor Proposes Med Mal Cap to Retain Doctors

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's 2015 state budget includes a section on "Helping Keep Doctors in Iowa."  Among the ideas he proposes is a cap on non-economic medical malpractice awards.  The Des Moines Register responded with an editorial (via The Pop Tort) in opposition that cited a study by the University of Iowa's Carver School of Medicine.  The school surveyed all doctors leaving Iowa in 2007 and 2008.  Of the 220 who responded, only one cited liability exposure as the most important reason for leaving.  As The Pop Tort points out, this finding is consistent with empirical work by Bernard  Black, Charles Silver, and David Hyman.  Caps will not significantly affect physician supply and they have a disparate impact on the most seriously injured.  Iowa should proceed by other means.

--CJR

February 13, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 7, 2014

MO: House Committee Approves $350K Med Mal Cap on Non-economic Damages

On Wednesday, a Missouri House committee approved a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in med mal cases.  A prior cap was in place in Missouri from 2005 until declared unconstitutional in 2012.  A similar bill to reinstate the cap stalled in the state Senate last year.  The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch has the story.

--CJR

February 7, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Flood Insurance

This is slightly off-topic, but I know a significant number of torts professors also teach insurance courses.  My hometown newspaper, The Patriot-News, does an excellent job of independent reporting.  Today's paper has a great series on flood insurance (highly relevant to a river town like Harrisburg) and the effects of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012.  The online version at PennLive is here.

--CJR

January 26, 2014 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

RI: Medical Apology Bill Introduced

Attempting to join many other states, several state representatives in Rhode Island have introduced a medical apology bill.  Like many of those states, including PA (where a bill introduced by my state senator, Pat Vance, passed unanimously in 2013), the bill would exclude expressions of benevolence, but not full admissions of fault.  A copy of the short bill is here.

--CJR

January 22, 2014 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 20, 2013

ATRA Releases "Judicial Hellholes" List

The American Tort Reform Association has released its annual "Judicial Hellholes" list. California tops the list followed by Louisiana and New York City.  The ABA Journal and Forbes have more.

- SBS

 

December 20, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 13, 2013

MO: Bill Would Restore $350K Med Mal Noneconomic Damages Cap

Rep. Eric Burlison has pre-filed a bill that would reinstate a noneconomic damages cap of $350,000 on med mal cases in Missouri.  In 2012, the state supreme court struck down a similar cap.  The Missouri House passed a cap last year, but it died in the Senate.  KMSU has the story.

--CJR

December 13, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 18, 2013

House Passes "Lawsuit Abuse" Bill

As I mentioned, last week, the U.S. House was taking up the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act.  The ABA Journal reports that the bill passed the House on Thursday.   The bill reinstates mandatory sanctions and eliminates the 21-day safe harbor for frivolous claims under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert. 

- SBS

November 18, 2013 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Tort Reform the Song"

From John Day comes "Tort Reform the Song".  As Day explains,

"Tort Reform - The Song" was authored as part of the American College of Trial Lawyers Sixth Circuit Conference held in April 2013 in Nashville. The Conference brought together Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee Fellows and their spouses.

It was appropriate to draw upon Nashville's incredible music history and talent as part of this program, and thus three professional songwriters, led by Ryder Lee, a law student at the Belmont University School of Law and founder and former member of The Lost Trailers helped us write a song. Ryder came into the program with the music and a strong start on the lyrics. The attendees, now co-authors of this work, contributed during the program. Ryder and I finished the work in a writer's room at Universal in Nashville and - no kidding - while sitting on the tailgate of Ryder's truck in the parking lot below Taylor Swift's condominium.

- SBS

November 18, 2013 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News, Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)