Pennsylvania physicians, hospital executives and other providers may now apologize and offer other benevolent gestures to patients, their families and representatives without such statements becoming evidence against them in medical malpractice suits. On October 23, 2013, Governor Corbett signed Senate Bill 379 into law which renders "benevolent gestures" inadmissible as evidence of liability in a malpractice suit.
This evidentiary rule has been championed as a type of medical tort reform intended to encourage frank discussions with patients and residents as well as their relatives and representatives. Commentators are divided, however, as to whether the measure will actually reduce the number of medical malpractice suits filed in the state.… Continue Reading
With a hat tip to the California Civil Justice Blog, earlier this week Texas enacted a "loser pays" system that proponents say will help rid the system of meritless cases. House Bill 274 takes effect September 1, 2011 and directs the Texas Supreme Court to enact rules providing for the early dismissal of "causes of action that have no basis in law or fact on motion and without evidence." For cases that fall within this "no basis in law or fact" category, the trial court may award the prevailing party costs and "reasonable and necessary attorney's fees . . . that the court determines are equitable and just" whenever it grants or denies a motion to dismiss, in whole or in part.
Given the rulemaking yet to occur and the discretion vested in the trial courts in whether to award fees, the exact contours of this law will take some development, and it remains to be seen whether Texas civil litigants will be ordered to pay attorneys fees rarely or with some frequency. Still, an interesting experiment in civil justice reform that will bear watching.… Continue Reading
The National Law Journal's article "Torts once again on the front burner in the House" discusses the March 24, 2011 U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on tort reform. The hearing, entitled, "Can We Sue Our Way to Prosperity?: Litigation's Effect on America's Global Competitiveness," once again opens the debate regarding the US tort system. Topics included a bill that would cap non-economic damages in cases of medical malpractice, and a hearing on the yet-to-be-introduced Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, a proposal to implement mandatory sanctions of attorneys who violate civil procedure's Rule 11 against filing frivolous claims.… Continue Reading
On September 17, 2009, the White House released a "Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform Demonstration" Fact Sheet, which outlines a new $25 million Department of Health and Human Services initiative designed to help states and health care systems identify new models for managing medical liability claims. The three-pronged initiative will support competitive grants to states and health systems with a focus on the development, implementation and evaluation of alternatives to improve health care quality and patient safety while reducing medical liability.… Continue Reading