Monday, February 8, 2010

Illinois medical malpractice caps unconstitutional

Chicago attorney Martin Dolan of Dolan Legal sent this article:

Illinois medical malpractice caps unconstitutional
By CARLA K. JOHNSON AP Medical Writer
February 4, 2010

CHICAGO - A divided Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that caps on some awards in medical malpractice cases violate the state's Constitution. Trial lawyers and consumer groups applauded the decision to strike down the caps, which limited awards for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Doctors and hospitals expressed disappointment and said the decision highlights the need for President Barack Obama and Congress to embrace medical liability reform as part of health care overhaul legislation.

It was the third time the court rejected caps enacted by state lawmakers.

This time, the justices struck down in its entirety a medical malpractice reform law enacted by the Legislature in 2005. The court said lawmakers could re-enact some of the measure's provisions, just not the caps on what malpractice victims could win in court. The law had limited awards to $500,000 when defendants were doctors and $1 million against hospitals.

It also gave state regulators more power to review and change malpractice insurance rates, investigate complaints and punish bad doctors.

The court said the Legislature's caps violate the separation of powers by infringing on the judiciary. Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald's majority opinion said the court wasn't persuaded by caps in other states...

At a news conference Thursday in Chicago, the family's attorney, Jeffrey Goldberg, distributed a photo of Abigaile Lebron sitting in a wheelchair. He urged lawmakers to remember the victims of medical malpractice...

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