TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Univ. School of Law

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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)

Friday, November 15, 2013

House Passes Tort Reform Bills

On Monday, Sheila reported that two tort reform bills, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT) and the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA) might receive votes in the U.S. House of Representatives this week.  FACT passed on Wednesday with a 221-199 vote and LARA passed yesterday 228-195.

--CJR

November 15, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Two Tort Reform Bills on House Calendar This Week

Two tort reform bills have been placed on the House calendar for this week:  the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act.  According to Govtrack.us, both bills are scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on Rules on November 12th.  

Workers' Compensation Blog has more.

- SBS

November 11, 2013 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

PA Adopts Med Mal Apology Immunity Legislation

Yesterday Gov. Tom Corbett signed legislation excluding from evidence apologies made by physicians and nursing home staff and administrators in med mal cases.  Statements accompanying the apology remain admissible.  The bill passed the state House 202-0 and the Senate 50-0.  PennLive has the story.

--CJR   

October 24, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ohio Tort Reform - 10 Years Later

WOSU, the public radio station in Columbus, Ohio, reports on the impact of Ohio's caps on non-economic damages passed 10 years ago.

- SBS

October 1, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Gifford & Reynolds on CAFA and Parens Patriae Actions

Don Gifford & Bill Reynolds (Maryland) have published in the North Carolina Law Review Addendum The Supreme Court, CAFA, and Parens Patriae Actions:  Will it Be Principles or Biases?.  The abstract provides:

The Supreme Court will hear a case during its 2013-2014 term that will test the principles of both its conservative and the liberal wings. In Mississippi ex rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp., Justices from each wing of the Court will be forced to choose between the modes of statutory interpretation they usually have favored in the past and their previously displayed pro-business or anti-business predispositions. The issue is whether the defendant-manufacturers can remove an action brought by a state attorney general suing as parens patriae to federal court. Beginning with their actions against tobacco manufacturers in the mid-1990s, state attorneys general often sued as parens patriae in litigation of nationwide significance. In Hood, the Supreme Court considers whether mass plaintiffs’ attorneys, by partnering with state attorneys general in parens patriae actions, will be able to circumvent the requirements of the Class Action Fairness Act that allow defendants to remove class actions and other forms of mass actions to the typically more defendant-friendly confines of federal courts. Resolution will turn on the Court’s interpretation of the statutory term “mass action.” A textualist interpretation, usually favored by Justice Scalia and his conservative colleagues, would not allow such removal—a decidedly anti-business result. At the same time, a purposive approach to interpreting the statutory provision, promoted by Justice Breyer, possibly would allow such removal. For each group of Justices, the conflict is clear: Will they follow their previously articulated principles of statutory interpretation or their ideological biases?

--CJR

September 27, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News, MDLs and Class Actions, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 20, 2013

MO: Lawmakers Override Vetoes on 3 Limitations of Liability

In Missouri, 3 of the 10 veto overrides were on issues of tort reform.  Missouri now limits punies in some lead-contamination cases, bars uninsured motorists injured in auto accidents from recovering non-economic damages from insured drivers who were at fault, and shields volunteer health care workers from liability for all but the most egregious conduct.  The Bellingham Herald has the story.  The article discusses a trend I have noticed lately.  The reforms being proposed and adopted tend to be much more discrete and limited than in the past.

--CJR

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

OK: Legislature Concludes Special Session

Oklahoma legislators concluded a five-day special session on Monday.  Called by Governor Mary Fallin, the session addressed tort reform in the wake of a June ruling by the state's supreme court that a 2009 tort reform law was unconstitutional.  Legislators passed about two dozen bills addressing, among other things, med mal, class actions, and products liability.  There were disputes about the certificate of merit requirement and an exemption from liability for manufacturers of "inherently unsafe" products.  The San Francisco Chronicle has the story.

--CJR

September 11, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 6, 2013

GA: Senate Considers Replacing Med Mal with a Compensation System

Georgia's Senate is considering SB 141, a bill that would replace medical malpractice litigation with a compensation system.  The study committee vetting the bill will likely hold 4 or 5 hearings on it.  Organizations representing both trial lawyers and physicians are opposed, so enactment seems unlikely.  Tom Crawford's Georgia Report has the details.

--CJR

September 6, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nearly 30 Bills To Re-Enact OK Tort Reform

The Oklahoman Speaker of the House has reportedly stated that "it will take 26 to 28 separate bills to reenact the lawsuit reform legislation of 2009." The OK Supreme Court struck down the tort reform bill back in June.  More from the Oklahoma Watchdog.

- SBS

August 21, 2013 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Engstrom & Rabin Op-Ed: Raise the MICRA Cap