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Judge Settles Med Mal Cases with a Measure of Sympathy

Posted Jun 21, 2010 6:07 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A New York judge is credited with developing a settlement negotiation model that is now being tried by five hospitals in a $2.9 million, three-year demonstration project funded by a federal grant.

Bronx County Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon starts by asking families to tell him about their loved one, reports the Associated Press. His "judge-directed negotiations" and the "humanness" with which he conducts them are intended to provide the justice that plaintiffs are seeking, rather than simply a financial award, according to the article.

Meanwhile, by settling cases before trial, the process provides faster resolution for plaintiffs, at a lower cost, reports the Albany Times Union.

"The longer it lasts, the more expensive it is to the parties and to the court as well," Judge Judy Harris Kluger tells the newspaper. She is the the state court system's policy and planning chief.

"The hope is that early settlement will resolve the issues to benefit of both sides early on in the proceedings," she continues. "People who have been wronged will get redress as early as possible and the court system will be handling these cases more quickly and more efficiently to allow more time on other matters."

Plaintiffs who wish to opt out of the settlement negotiation process can do so at any time.

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