Rancor infects city club as doctors, lawyers take sides

Cleveland Plain Dealer
Saturday, August 10, 2002

The debate over a proposed law limiting medical malpractice jury awards turned into a hissing match yesterday amid the white-tablecloth gentility of the City Club of Cleveland.

Doctors who favor passing the law and lawyers who oppose it booed and hissed each other during a question-and-answer session that followed speeches by two proponents of the law.

State Sen. Kevin Coughlin, Republican of Cuyahoga Falls, and Dr. John Bastulli, vice president of the Academy of Medicine Cleveland/Northern Ohio Medical Association, spoke in favor of so-called "tort reform" before a lunchtime audience of 150.

Coughlin is a co-sponsor of a bill that caps noneconomic damages - such as pain and suffering or loss of companionship - at $300,000 in medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill also limits the fees that lawyers can collect.

Doctors hissed as Paris asked Bastulli whether he would find a $300,000 cap on noneconomic damages acceptable should his own wife die under those circumstances.

The lawyers hissed back when Bastulli asked Paris how much of the undisclosed settlement he had kept as his fee.

The hissing match could resume Oct. 11. That's when Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, a New York-based consumer group, will speak against tort reform at the City Club.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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