October 2006 Issue
While Texas plaintiffs lawyers have been leaving in droves from nursing home and medical malpractice litigation in the wake of tort reform, San Antonio’s Glenn Cunningham is still doing it—albeit with a radically different business model and a much thinner wallet.
Before the 2003 changes in state law, Cunningham would round up seven or eight experts, take 15 to 20 depositions and easily spend $85,000 to $100,000 to work up a case. Apparently, the effort persuaded defendants they had problems on the facts and the law, because he often settled for $1 million to $3 million.
But with new restrictions on medical malpractice suits, many otherwise meritorious cases are no longer economically practical, Cunningham explains. The limits include a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering—a cap that hits the elderly and the poor especially hard, since they have little or nothing to show for lost earning power under economic damages.
They are fairly standard jury selection questions: Do you know any of the defendants? Do you know the defendant’s wife? Have you, a close relative or friend been the victim of, witness to or charged with a crime in the last 10 years?
If the civil war hadn’t started off badly enough for the Union on the battlefield, Abraham Lincoln soon found himself fighting a second enemy at home: war profiteers out to make a buck by cheating the government in just about every way imaginable.