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May 13, 2004

Texas tort reform update

The Texas tort reform initiative is unique because it seeks to accomplish reform through constitutional amendment; on some other occasions, plaintiff-friendly judges have struck down state tort-reform measures by claiming that they conflict with state constitutions. Early voting for tomorrow's election shows larger-than-normal turnout. (Kris Axtman, "Texas vote tests a new tactic to curb jury awards," Christian Science Monitor, Sep. 12). Lara Squires writes at length in support of Proposition 12 in the Fort Worth Business Press, noting a 400% increase in some insurance costs:

[Dr. John] Durand is an interventional cardiologist with Consultants in Cardiology of Fort Worth. He says that in a three-year period, his 12-physician group’s insurance premiums have gone from $125,000 a year to close to $700,000 a year, despite an impeccable claims history.

“We had been setting aside funds for our practice growth. We were going to build an outpatient congestive heart failure clinic, to meet the needs of a growing population facing this major health problem,” Durand said. “Instead, we had to cut back on services, freeze hiring of more medical staff and scrap plans for the outpatient center. It’s the first time in 35 years of our practice that we’ve identified a need in the community and haven’t been able to implement the solution.” (Sep. 10).

One unintended consequence of the ballot initiative: a backlog of over a thousand medical malpractice cases filed in Harris County in a three-month stretch in an effort to beat the deadline that would be imposed by the amendment. (AP, "Backlog of malpractice cases results from deadline," Sep. 11; previous Overlawyered discussion Sep. 6).

SEP. 14 UPDATE: The constitutional amendment passes, 51-49. (Kelly Shannon, "Texans Vote to Limit Lawsuit Awards", AP, Sep. 14; Janet Elliott, "Texans pass Prop. 12 in statewide election", Houston Chronicle, Sep. 14; amendment text). (via Bashman)

(Cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Sept. 12, 2003)

Posted by Ted Frank at 07:56 PM | TrackBack (0)

Medicine and Law



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