Reactions to the Medical Malpractice veto
Posted June 24, 2011
Senate Leader Phil Berger was quick to weigh in on Perdue's veto of Senate Bill 33, the Medical Malpractice reform bill:
“In countless frivolous lawsuits, trial lawyers win big and drive up health care costs for everyone. Yet Gov. Perdue chose to cater to special interests instead of reducing medical costs and improving access to care for all North Carolinians,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “The legislature passed a strong bipartisan bill allowing patients to recover full medical expenses and lost wages, and up to $500,000 for additional ‘noneconomic damages’ including pain and suffering. No matter how she spins it, a veto is a veto, and this one deals a severe blow to the state’s medical community and every citizen struggling to cope with the skyrocketing cost of health care.”
"Like the original version of Senate Bill 33, the bipartisan conference report sets a $500,000 cap on the amount juries can award for pain and suffering and other “noneconomic damages.” But the new cap does not apply if a defendant’s act of gross negligence, fraud, intentional failure, malice, or reckless disregard for the rights of others results in someone’s death, disfigurement, permanent injury, or loss of a body part. And patients still can recover all medical costs and lost income.
"The bill protects doctors and medical personnel from frivolous lawsuits that force them to perform unnecessary procedures and tests. Every North Carolinian pays for that defensive medicine through higher insurance costs and taxpayer-funded medical programs for the poor.
But the state's trial lawyers were even quicker to praise the governor's action. Here's the statement from Dick Taylor, North Carolina Advocates for Justice:
"Senate Bill 33, in its original Senate form, totally legalized negligence in emergency rooms, and denied the most catastrophically injured people a just recovery by cutting jury verdicts. Two former Republican NC Supreme Court Justices said this is unconstitutional because the legislature cannot interfere with each North Carolinian’s right to a fair jury trial or overrule jury verdicts. Representative Grey Mills and other House Republicans and Democrats fixed the Senate Bill, but the Senate overruled the House, and the final version denies justice to injured persons. We applaud the Governor for vetoing this bill. If it comes up again, we hope the House will fix it one more time."