Saturday, August 27, 2005

Quick, Everybody out of the Horse!

Okay, last post on this issue for a while...


Throughout session, some of my colleagues and I maintained that the med mal bill was simply a trojan horse for the greater tort reform movement and the U.S. Chamber wasted no time in confirming that fact, as further set forth in the Illinois Leader:
At the same time the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) recognized Illinois’ newly enacted medical liability reforms as a good first step toward solving the state’s lawsuit crisis, they announced the launch of a statewide advertising campaign to highlight the need for additional reforms to restore fairness and balance to the legal system. (emphasis added)
At the same time? They couldn't even wait a month/week/day to give some semblance that their support for the med mal bill wasn't purely an angle for what they really cared about?

Now I think that there is room for reform in our legal system, but in light of the spin they they put on the med mal issue, I am curious to watch how the U.S. Chamber tries to sell this one to the public. It looks as if the tact will be to say "We aren't trying to protect the profits of our members, we are trying to protect your economy".

They are already doing things like claiming the loss of 200,000 jobs in Illinois over the last five years as a byproduct of our judicial system. Um guys, you think 9/11 or the war or the fees that the state has imposed has had anything to do with the job loss? An issue this substantial deserves an honest debate. From all sides.

15 Comments:

At August 27, 2005 at 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At August 27, 2005 at 9:04 PM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Anonymous 6:39 is being juvenile.
Capping non economic damages is a significant step towards ensuring not only access to medical care, but also that the judicial system acutally administers justice, not just prescribed doses of paens to the trial lawyers.

 
At August 28, 2005 at 10:18 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Amy,

Outside of the sphere of med mal cases, the concept of punitive damages has long existed as an effective means of deterring undesired conduct or business practices. For example, without punitive damages, a corporation may decide that the cost of paying for the occasional injury that is caused by a knowingly defective product is offset by the profits made from that product. Punitive damages negates that concept by acting as a disincentive to that philosophy.

 
At August 28, 2005 at 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At August 28, 2005 at 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon Panty Person -
You think you're making Rep. Fritchey look foolish, but you're the one posting juvenile, playground jabs. Why don't YOU grow a pair and use your real name, pansy?

 
At August 28, 2005 at 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Panty Poster, why don't you either try to add some value to the Rep's site or quietly go back to posting on the Illinois Leader as Richard T2, and we won't go into the various porn websites that you have been tracked to. Capisce?

- Intelligent Blog Supporter

 
At August 28, 2005 at 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which sites by the way are somewhat interesting given some of your homophobic posts.

- Intelligent Blog Supporter

 
At August 28, 2005 at 9:46 PM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Representative Fritchey,
Sir, I say this with all due deference, but "punitive damages" is not synonymous with "non economic damages." Also, sir, to continue your analogy to consumer products, some goods(i.e. automobiles) are regulated by federal statue, just as MD's( and JD's) are licensed by the state and have standards of professional conduct by which they must abide, at the risk of losing their license. Are their colleagues at the IDFPR not better judges of their conduct than juries composed of lay persons, judges who have elections to win, and clout-laden counsel who may "shop" for favorable jurisdiction? "Justice" may carry the same definition from Chicago to Cairo, but it is term with vastly different competing interpretations contingent on the caprice of geography. Cui bono?
Sir, you had a thought provoking post.

 
At August 28, 2005 at 10:12 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At August 29, 2005 at 12:16 AM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

Amy,

Point conceded to an extent. The damages are not synonymous but are somewhat alalogous. There is a concept of deterrence of reckless conduct intertwined in each. And even for federally policed products, for centuries we have been fine entrusting a jury of our peers to make that determination and to root out baseless claims.

It the proponents of tort reform no longer have faith in our jury system, they should say so and let all sides debate that issue.

 
At August 29, 2005 at 11:17 AM, Blogger ArchPundit said...

One of my frustrations with the entire situation is that the problems in Southern Illinois don't have that much to do with lawsuits, but a dramatic way in which health care is delivered. Instead of dealing with a health care system that is consolidating and becoming more centered in large urban centers because of the expense of many types of practice, the debate was effectively framed as being about lawsuits.

There aren't any neurosurgeons in Southern Illinois because there aren't many neurosurgeons in small towns and rural areas anymore. Just as other industries have consolidated, so has health care.

I think some controls on venue shopping are legitimate--or some way of standardizing awards in different venues at least, but to blame health care consolidation on lawsuits increasing malpractice insurance misses three factors:

1) The insurance industry's effort to increase profits
2) A lack of accountability for actually bad doctors
and most important
3) Changes in the health care industry itself.

 
At August 29, 2005 at 11:39 AM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

ArchPundit,

I'm on the same page with you and I appreciate you sharing your insights here.

 
At August 29, 2005 at 3:47 PM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Rep. Fritchey,
Evidence presented to a jury in a criminal case, while far from clear-cut, is generally imminently comprehensible. Juries are also perfectly capable of assessing whether or not a physician in a malpractice case is at fault. "Pain and suffering" damages defy easy categorization. In no way do I aim to suggest that the jury system is inadequate. Rather, as judges are constrained by truth in sentencing laws, caps on non economic damages ensure some modicum of consistency from one jurisdiction to the next, and, more importantly, a solution that is equitable to both parties.
Thank you, sir, for honoring us with your insightful analysis.

 
At August 29, 2005 at 3:57 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

So Amy, are you suggesting that punitive damages should be eliminated from all causes of action? Keep in mind that such a course leaves open the ability for a, for example, product manufacturer to decide that it is cheaper to pay for physical injuries to customers than it is to correct a known product defect.

As you are aware, the concept of punitive damages has oft been that they act as a deterrent to undesired conduct that may be otherwise justifiable from a straight cost/benefit analysis.

 
At August 30, 2005 at 11:29 AM, Blogger Amy Allen said...

Rep. Fritchey,
Sir, with all due respect, I said nothing about punitive damages, nor did I suggest that non economic damages ought to be "eliminated." The med mal legislation signed into law by the governor limited them to one millionm and I referred only to that.

 

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