Tag Archives: Tort Reform

Full impact of tort reform yet to be felt (access required)

Tort reform dome

One full year has elapsed since North Carolina’s medical malpractice tort reform law went into effect, and the number of monthly filings is less than half of what it used to be in the years before reform. But don’t be misled. This is a classic case of statistical misdirection. It’s true that after Oct. 1, 2011, when the law took effect, filings dropped. But during the month just prior to that date, attorneys scrambled to get cases into court before the law’s damage cap kicked in. The result was that a huge number of cases – more than 300 – were filed in September 2011. That’s about eight times more than the monthly average.

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It’s not easy being an expert these days  (access required)

Support firms have to readjust as tight times and tort reform alter the dynamics of litigation Tort reform and the stagnating economy have taken a toll on the expert business, though not necessarily to the extent some might expect. “With tort reform hitting hard in a lot of states, we’re seeing a big push towards mass tort work by the plaintiff’s bar,” said Eric Eckhardt, head of development and sales for Pennsylvania-based Robson Forensics. “So for example, if plaintiff’s lawyers can’t try a case effectively in Texas, they’re moving towards trying cases nationally. They’re networking with other plaintiff’s lawyers to get the payout.”

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After tort reform, support costs of litigation get a hard look from lawyers (access required)

In anticipation of state legislators passing tort reform, Mark McGrath and his law partner, George Podgorny, started reviewing medical malpractice cases for filing about eight months ago. With the new tort reform law taking effect Oct. 1, the triage of what to fast-track and what to drop continues unabated at McGrath Podgorny in Research Triangle Park. Every new case coming in is probed: How many medical experts are needed to present the case? How much research will be required? What’s the chance of settling the case or winning a jury verdict if it goes to trial? Is the patient at the center of the case a child or a nursing home resident?

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Effective date of tort reform a headache for lawyers and plaintiffs (access required)

On July 25, the General Assembly voted to override Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto of Senate Bill 33, a tort reform measure that places draconian limitations on the ability of medical malpractice victims to seek redress in court. The bill reads like a Christmas wish list for malpractice insurers, the state Chamber and the medical lobby: noneconomic damages capped at $500,000, virtual immunity for providers who perform vaguely defined “emergency” treatment, heightened requirements for expert witnesses and abbreviated periods of limitation.

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Pro-business or anti-lawyer? Lawyers’ groups muse about the impact of recent legislation.  (access required)

As the political tides turn in the North Carolina General Assembly, so does the nature of the legislation being passed. With the new Republican majority taking up various reforms as a way to make the state more business-friendly, lawyers — particularly plaintiff’s attorneys — ended up as collateral damage. “Lawyers are not in very good odor in the Legislature right now,” said recently appointed North Carolina Bar Association President Martin Brinkley. The big bills that passed over the last session are evidence of the anti-lawyer sentiment: A tort reform bill, a worker’s compensation bill and a medical malpractice bill all gave the average Joe less ground for a lawsuit.

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House, Senate agree on ER medical malpractice cap (access required)

Both chambers of the North Carolina Legislature recently approved legislation that would limit liability for emergency room physician malpractice to $500,000 for a patient's death, disfigurement, permanent injury or loss of use of parts of the body. The bill, S33, does not cap noneconomic damages when a defendant acts "in reckless disregard of the rights of others," with gross negligence, fraud, malice or intentionally causes the death, disfigurement, permanent injury or loss of use of part of the body.

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Cap concerns delaying tort legislation (access required)

Tort reform appears to be thriving in the North Carolina General Assembly, but the opposition has not given up on blocking it in the 2011 session. Todd Barlow, representing the North Carolina Advocates for Justice's Political Affairs Council said, "The NCAJ and other groups concerned about safety absolutely continue to fight for the rights of injured patients. Every day, patients and their advocates are asking legislators to put people above insurance company profits."

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