Measure that would cap malpractice awards to get first of three markups

Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor
Monday, March 3, 2003

House committees begin work today on legislation (HR 5) that would cap jury awards in medical malpractice cases.

While the legislation is expected to pass the House, it faces a tougher time in the Senate where supporters will have to find a way to reach out to Democrats who are staunchly opposed to limiting jury awards.

The bill, sponsored by James C. Greenwood, R-Pa., would place a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages. The measure also would cap punitive damages at twice the economic damages, or $250,000, whichever is greater. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for a wrongdoing that caused an injury.

Outside the news conference, members of a group representing victims of medical malpractice urged the AMA to stop its campaign to limit malpractice awards.

The organization, called the Center for Justice & Democracy, includes a New Jersey Vietnam veteran who says a surgeon mistakenly removed his only healthy lung, and a Massachusetts state police officer who said physician error led to the death of his 13-month-old daughter. "We are the forgotten faces in this debate; the ones who continue to suffer as a result of often egregious malpractice," the group wrote to the AMA. "Each of us deserves to have jurors and a judge ... decide what compensation is best. That decision should not be made by you or by politicians sitting in Washington, DC."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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