State's Malpractice Law Challenged

Champaign News-Gazette
Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Monday seeks to invalidate a state law limiting jury awards in medical malpractice cases.
The law allows unlimited economic damages to compensate for lost wages, medical bills and other associated expenses, but caps non-economic damage awards for pain and suffering, loss of life or limb, disfigurement and loss of companionship to $500,000 per doctor and $1 million per hospital.
Supporters of such limits say they are key to cutting the high malpractice insurance rates that have been driving doctors out of Illinois , particularly specialists like obstetricians and neurosurgeons. But opponents say the caps restrict victims' rights.
"We're very hopeful that the Illinois Supreme Court will rule the caps unconstitutional," said Mark Fraley, acting director of the Center for Justice and Democracy in Illinois . "We feel that the cap is devastating to those who have been catastrophically injured by medical malpractice and does nothing to lower doctors' insurance premiums."
Advocates on both sides of the issue have long expected a legal challenge; it was just a matter of when. The alleged malpractice had to have occurred after the law took effect in August 2005.
"This is the first case that I have encountered to which the new law applies and where the reasonable damages exceed what the new law would allow," said Jeffrey M. Goldberg, the Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit.
The case, LeBron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and others, alleges that "the doctors and nurses did not appropriately deliver the baby" of a woman who entered the hospital in labor, Goldberg said.
The baby, Abigaile LeBron, "suffers from extensive brain damage" allegedly resulting from a lack of oxygen during her delivery, according to a case summary provided by Fraley.
Goldberg said it was hard to estimate how long the girl's case would take to reach the Illinois Supreme Court, but it could be two years or more before a final verdict is reached.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us