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"Stability, Not Crisis"

I appear to be the second person who has downloaded the final, published version of "Stability, Not Crisis" paper discussed here earlier (Mar. 10; Apr. 1). The final paper tones down the earlier drafts' claims. At the time it was released, the paper's authors published an op-ed in the New York Times:

Medical malpractice litigation reform is a high priority for President Bush, who contends that juries are running amok, multimillion-dollar settlements are on the rise and greedy trial lawyers are filing frivolous suits. The results, Mr. Bush and others argue, include skyrocketing insurance prices, abandoned medical practices, defensive medicine and a crisis of access to care. Their proposed solution: caps on jury awards to patients and on lawyers' contingent fees.

No one disputes that insurance premiums have risen significantly. [...] The medical malpractice system has many problems, but a crisis in claims, payouts and jury verdicts is not among them. Thus, the federal "solution" that Mr. Bush proposes is both overbroad and directed at the wrong problem.

ATLA crowed, quoting the paper: "[T]ort limits are 'unlikely to prevent future insurance crises.'" So it's worth noting a new paragraph in the final, published paper:

Texas adopted comprehensive tort reform, including caps on noneconomic damages, effective for claims filed after September 1, 2003. These changes postdate the period we study so we cannot assess how they will affect claim outcomes. On economic grounds, one would expect liability caps to reduce both the number of large paid claims and the average payout per claim. In the long run, this should lead to lower insurance premiums. [emphasis added]

It's doubtful that ATLA will correct its "fact sheet," even though the paper it's relying upon has retreated from that quote and corrected itself. And the actual publication of the paper will get none of the publicity of the considerably less modest working paper, press release and op-ed of five months ago.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.