Consumer Groups and Medical Malpractice Survivors Join Together to Call for Repeal of Caps in Illinois

Thursday, August 24, 2006

For Release:
August 24, 2006
Contact: Mark Fraley, CJ&D Illinois
            312/644-8442       or

Laurie Beacham, CJ&D

Lynda DeLaforgue, Citizen Action/Illinois
            312/427-2114       x 3
Consumer Groups and Medical Malpractice Survivors Join Together to Call for Repeal of Caps
One-Year Anniversary of Law Unites Those Most Affected
Chicago, IL –The Center for Justice & Democracy, Citizen Action/Illinois, USAction and malpractice victims from around the state today called on Illinois lawmakers to repeal the “caps,” or limits, on compensation for medical malpractice victims signed into law one year ago today.
In a letter sent to Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois legislature today, twenty victims and family members hurt by medical malpractice asked lawmakers to “repeal this cruel law, which hurts innocent Illinois citizens and has done nothing to reduce doctors’ insurance costs.” Calling the legislation “a nightmare for injured patients,” the victims said its enactment “was a political coup for the insurance industry.”
Tammy Schilt from West Salem, who suffered severe injuries after a sponge was left inside her during the birth of her son, Kelsey, said, “Some of us or our family members have lost limbs, suffered brain damage or blindness, or even died. It is the role of juries, and not politicians, to decide how much our injuries are worth. Patients should not be stripped of their constitutional rights to have their cases decided on an individual basis by juries, and should not be subject to a ‘one size fits all’ cap on compensation.”
“The Illinois cap is devastating for families like mine who have suffered catastrophic injuries,” said Donna Harnett, whose son, Martin, developed cerebral palsy after a delivery-related injury. “If there had been a law then like the one that exists now, it would have torn our family apart and my son would be in an institution.”
Joining the call for repealing the cap, William McNary, co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois and President of USAction, said, “One year ago tomorrow a law was passed in Illinois capping the amount of money insurance companies have to pay victims of gross medical negligence. Supporters of the law promised it would help doctors by reducing insurance premiums. But that’s not what’s happening. Insurance premiums for many doctors have continued to increase. The real winner is the insurance industry. Profits for Illinois’ largest medical malpractice insurer doubled last year and its CEO were rewarded with nearly $1 million in compensation.”
Also calling for repeal of the caps was the Center for Justice & Democracy. “These caps were enacted despite repeated evidence that the insurance industry’s mismanaged underwriting and investment practices, not litigation, cause malpractice insurance rates to rise,” said Mark Fraley, acting director of the Center for Justice and Democracy-Illinois. “It is wrong to try to solve this insurance problem on the backs of injured patients. The real problem is the unacceptable degree of medical malpractice that exists in Illinois, which still must be addressed. This brutal and unfair law needs to be repealed.”
A full copy of the letter from medical malpractice victims to the Illinois legislature can be found at

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