Our California Election Watch 2014 series continues with a debate on Proposition 46. The initiative would raise the ceiling on awards in medical malpractice lawsuits and allow for random alcohol and drug testing of doctors, among other provisions. Prop. 46 pits trial lawyers, who support the measure, against doctors and insurers who oppose it. We'll talk with representatives from both sides.
Show Highlights: The Prop. 46 Debate, Issue by Issue
Raising the Ceiling on Damages for Pain and Suffering in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Yes on 46 Argument
"The law was set in 1975 and it capped non-economic damages, which is primarily cases where there's death and or severe pain and suffering; it capped the ability for a harmed patient to be able to sue for a maximum of $250,000 but almost 40 years later it's still $250,000. And we want to adjust that for inflation because $250,000 in today's money, for a harmed patient or death of a child, the victim's family can't even get an attorney to take the case."
"The No Campaign has pitted this as all about lawyers and that's just patentently false. Because in Prop. 46 the attorney rates are scaled down. There's a provision that caps attorney fees. For example, under Prop. 46, if a patient wins an award from a jury for $600,00 or more the attorney's fees are capped at 15 percent. Nobody's getting rich off that."
--Robert Pack, Yes on Prop. 46 Campaign
No on 46 Argument
"Just to clarify something - the cap on malpractice awards is not capped at $250,000. The only cap is on the non-economic portion of that award, which is the traditional pain and suffering piece. The actual awards since 1975 have outpaced inflation by two and a half percent.