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October 25, 2004
State initiatives head to the wire
Doctors and lawyers are battling over ballot initiatives in four states this year, with very mixed signals from the voters at the moment:
* Florida's doctor-sponsored Amendment 3 (May 19, Jul. 20), which would limit attorneys' fees in medical malpractice cases, has sunk to only 34 percent public support, down from 45 percent in an earlier poll. One possibly relevant factor is that trial lawyers have dumped $22 million into ads and other spending against the amendment, while proponents have managed to spend only $7 million. Meanwhile, lawyer-sponsored Amendments 7 and 8, "revenge initiatives" which would make life more difficult for doctors by exposing peer-review records to public scrutiny whether or not misconduct is found and would menace doctors with license revocation on the loss of three malpractice actions (see Aug. 4), are believed to be well ahead among voters.
* A new Las Vegas Review-Journal poll shows Nevada's doctor-sponsored Question Three, which would limit medical malpractice pain and suffering awards and attorney fees, has risen to 57 percent voter support, up 11 points from an earlier poll. Meanwhile, trial-lawyer-sponsored alternative Questions Four and Five, which would inscribe various trial lawyer agenda items into the state constitution under pretense of restricting insurance rates and frivolous lawsuits, have dropped sharply in public support and now stand at 39 and 45 percent respectively.
* In Oregon, an Oct. 1 poll found 50 percent of voters backing Measure 35, which would limit noneconomic damages in malpractice cases to $500,000, while 36 percent were opposed.
* No poll data is available on the Wyoming battle over Amendments C and D. Interestingly, trial lawyers are using the same ad (featuring "Becky's family") in Oregon as in Wyoming, notwithstanding many viewers' likely assumption that an ad opposing an initiative on their ballot will feature a family that actually lives in their state.
Posted by Walter Olson at 12:58 AM
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