Doctor Lawmaker Pushing Malpractice Caps Paid Toward $500,000 Settlement


Posted on 9th February 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized


Is it a potential conflict of interest for a lawmaker, a retired doctor, to push for legislation limiting malpractice awards when he himself was involved in the settlement of such a case for $500,000? Maybe not technically, but it doesn’t seem quite kosher.

The New York Times Wednesday did a story about Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia, a retired obstetrician, who has introducd a number of versions of a malpractice reform bill. 

As it turns out, according to The Times, Gingrey was one of  several doctors named in a lawsuit filed by a pregnant woman. The suit alleged that  Gingrey and two fellow doctors failed to realise that the woman had appendicitis. When her appendix burst the woman not only lost her fetus but also suffered a stroke.

The malpractice suit, which had been reinstated after being dismissed at a trial. was settled in 2007.

Gingrey’s office gave The Times a prepared statement about the settlement, saying that the parties in the case agreed to settle because they want to deal with the cost, time, commitment and stress of a second trial.          

The bill that Gingrey is backing would collar damages for pain and suffering in malpractice cases at $250,000. It would also limit the fees that attorneys could collect for handling a patient’s case and it would offer alternatives to litigation to resolve malpractice suits.

In his statement Gingrey defended the malpractice legislation, saying that it will stop third-parties, such as attorneys,  from from collecting big fees at the expense of patients who are suing.

It seems to me that capping malpractice awards and attorneys’ fee will discourage talented lawyers from representing patients in such  cases. And then it follows that these patients won’t be getting the benefit of the best counsel around .

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