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Delay Will Not Avoid Opposition By Consumer Rights Advocates

Despite the delay, this will still be a major legislative battle. Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum recently told a group of doctors that he and his colleagues “are going to go to war in Washington, DC” to create a cap on non-economic damages.  The cap Sen. Santorum supports is half the amount his wife sought in damages when she sued her chiropractor in 1999.

Expected Provisions of Senate Bill 22

Although the bill hasn’t been made public yet, sources say the bill will:

  • Establish a $250,000 cap on non-economic loss against doctors or hospitals. While disguised as a $750,000 cap, only $250,000 is available against an individual defendant
  • Eliminate joint and several liability
  • Establish attorney fee caps
  • Virtually eliminate punitive damages even for Arizona personal injury matters
  • Preempt  only state legislation more favorable to patients

Across the nation, pro-civil justice activists are fighting back against this legislation designed to tilt the playing field in favor of powerful corporate interests – such as the American Medical Association, which has launched a grassroots advertising campaign this week focused on passing medical liability reform in the U.S. Senate. “Escalating jury awards and settlements, coupled with the high cost of defending against lawsuits, force highly skilled doctors to limit services or retire early, which seriously impedes patient access to care. U.S. Senate Bill 22 would stop lawsuit abuse and protect families. Tell your Senators to stand up to the powerful special interests and support Senate Bill 22.”  Evidently the AMA does not view itself as a “special interest” group.

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