Medical Malpractice

Pelosi Health Bill Has ‘Buried Tort Bomb’ Discouraging Damages Caps

Buried in a health bill sponsored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a provision that discourages caps on damages and attorney fees.

The bill says states with such caps can’t qualify for incentive payments to develop alternative medical liability laws, the Wall Street Journal reports in an editorial that criticizes the provision. Although the bill promotes alternatives designed to discourage frivolous suits, the newspaper doesn’t particularly like them.

“Holy Bill Lerach,” the Wall Street Journal writes. ‘Huge contingency fees and damage awards are the mother’s milk of frivolous lawsuits. That’s why 30 states have adopted caps on awards as the core of their reform, with huge success.”

Among the alternatives encouraged by the Pelosi bill: a requirement that lawyers obtain a certificate of merit from an expert before suing. States may also enact early offer rules designed to encourage settlements.

The Wall Street Journal says the options are “watered down alternatives” to damages caps and calls the bill a “hidden Pelosi tort bomb.”

Additional coverage:

New York Post: “Tort-bar treat”

The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room: “House healthcare bill cuts incentives to states that cap attorney fees, damages”

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