A vote in the US Senate this past week showed that a bi-partisan majority did not agree with John Ensign’s proposal to limit plaintiff’s attorney’s fees for handling medical malpractice claims. The bill to limit plaintiff’s attorney fees in medical malpractice cases failed because the overwhelming majority of lawmakers realize that victims of medical malpractice face some of the fiercest litigation battles from negligent doctors. And those battles result in ever-increasing costs to injury victims. This on top of numerous hurdles that burden medial malpractice injury victims (at least in North Carolina) from ever getting to see the inside of a courtroom. The message from Ensign’s proposal –doctors can vigorously defend the harm they cause, but we will continue to limit the victims ability to pursue cases. Interestingly, Ensign’s proposal did not limit attorney’s fees for defending negligent doctors. Instead it was another veiled attempt to stick it to trial lawyers, at the expense of people who suffer or die from medical mistakes. If real “tort reform” is ever to have a chance, it must be based on a genuine and sincere effort to level the playing field for all.
North Carolina’s Senators Kay Hagan (D) and Richard Burr (R) voted in favor of the failed Ensign amendment.