At the end of June 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1215, the Bill which limits your right to a fair trial by a jury of your peers, and limits the amount of recovery a medical malpractice victim may be awarded. Now, that Bill will move onto the Senate, which will likely vote on it after the recess.
The federal government got this wrong – very wrong. Instead of looking to protect victims, they instead voted to enact a law based off of the myth that tort reform is good for the American people. It’s not. It never will be. All tort reform does is harm innocent victims even more.
The Bill passed only a couple of weeks after Florida ruled that damage caps were unconstitutional – a decision that rallied us. And though the passing of HR 1215 is a blow, we are cautiously optimistic about the fate of tort reform, because a Wisconsin appellate court has just ruled that the state’s damage caps are unconstitutional, too.
A horrific case of medical negligence
The case involved one of the most egregious acts of medical negligence we have ever heard of. In 2011, a mother of four developed a Strep A infection. The strep was undiagnosed by doctors, and eventually led to septic shock. As a result, all four of the woman’s limbs were amputated. A Wisconsin jury awarded her $25.3 million dollars – $8.8 million which went to economic damages, like lost wages and medical expenses. Wisconsin, however, caps all non-economic damages at $750,000, and the decision ended up being appealed.
The Journal-Sentinel reports that Judge Joan Kessler wrote this in the unanimous opinion:
“We conclude that the statutory cap on non-economic damages is unconstitutional on its face…. Wisconsin’s cap on non-economic medical malpractice damages always reduces non-economic damages only for the class of the most severely injured victims who have been awarded damages exceeding the cap, yet always allows full damages to the less severely injured malpractice victims.”
Wisconsin’s damage caps are 3x the amount that a person might be expected to receive under the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, and the appellate court still knew that limiting this patient’s damages to $750,000 was the wrong idea. There is every reason to believe the case will go to the state’s Supreme Court. We can only hope that they, too, will side with the patient.
What this woman and her family has suffered is unconscionable, but under HR 1215, this type of medical malpractice will be treated just the same as any other. If that meant that doctors and healthcare professionals would finally be held accountable for their actions, we could at least understand why someone might believe in the myth of tort reform.
But that won’t happen. Instead, families will continue to be hurt under an unjust law based on a lie. That is we why urge you to contact your Senators and ask them not to pass this dangerous Bill into law.
At Crandall & Pera Law, we promise that we will keep fighting for our clients, their families, and for justice. To learn more about our services, please call our Kentucky medical malpractice lawyers at 877.651.7764, our Ohio medical negligence attorneys at 877.686.8879, or fill out our contact form.
Read more about tort reform and HR 1215:
- THE ABA STANDS WITH PATIENTS: HR 1215 IS DANGEROUS
- H.R. 1215: CONGRESSIONAL TORT REFORM DESIGNED TO DESTROY YOUR RIGHTS
- NEW BILL WOULD REMOVE EFFECTIVE CHECKS ON MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
- STATE AND FEDERAL EFFORTS TO LIMIT DAMAGES IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES
- TORT REFORM IN OHIO: GOOD FOR RAPISTS, BAD FOR VICTIMS
From the Patients’ Rights Blog:
- H.R. 1215 Aims to Stifle Victim’s Rights in Medical Malpractice Cases
- Tort Reform and Damage Caps Protect Hospitals, Not Patients