Lobbyists collide at state capitol over tort reform

New York Law Journal
Tuesday, April 23, 2002

New York trial lawyers and their legislative foes – primarily doctors and businesses -- are battling this week at the capitol, with advocates on both sides of the so-called "tort reform" debate unleashing their lobbyists in a major late-session push. The result, insiders suggest, is likely to be nil as two or more powerful and influential forces cancel each other out and perpetuate the status quo.

"We agree there is a malpractice crisis," said H. Blair Horner, lobbyist for the New York Public Interest Research Group. "But it doesn't occur in the courtroom. It occurs in the hospital."

Horner said statistics show that more people die as a result of medical error than from car crashes. He said, contrary to the assertions of the Medical Society, that the number of physicians in New York State has risen dramatically over the past 20 years and continues to outpace the national average.

"People don't sue unless they get hurt," Mr. Horner said. "The best way to reduce lawsuits is to reduce needless patient injuries and deaths."
Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, an advocacy group in Manhattan, said the measures promoted by the Medical Society would do nothing to contain insurance premiums and would only protect careless physicians.

"The chief beneficiaries will be negligent doctors who get away without being made to pay for the harm they cause innocent New Yorkers," Doroshow said.

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