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William B. Eadie
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Insurance Companies Fighting to Survive Frivolous-Lawsuit Onslaught

27 comments

Health insurance companies, battling the overwhelming costs of frivolous lawsuits and jackpot justice that are putting honest doctors out of business and risking the lives of Americans every day, are struggling to survive in this down economy, many shuttering their doors as they fold up, one-by-one.

Oh, wait, health insurance companies collectively made a whopping $9.3 billion in profits in 2010. And that was just for the first nine months! Profits were up 41% over the same period in 2009. Chuck Smith Dewey reported this astonishing figure back when Democrat Pete Stark (D-Calif.) was demanding that the companies lower their premiums. Instead, the health insurance lobby spent millions to help implement malpractice entitlements for bad doctors, so that they could eke out just a little bit more money. They also made sure Democrats didn’t retain control of congress.

But, some careful readers are thinking, “that’s personal health insurance, not malpractice insurance! The malpractice insurers are the ones on the ropes, right?” Wrong again: “medical malpractice insurance companies’ average profits are higher than those of 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies.” Seriously, re-read that last sentence.

How do they do it? By pitting doctors against patients (or, more particularly, doctors against their patients’ lawyers). For decades, the insurance company has been telling doctors that greedy plaintiff’s lawyers are filing frivolous lawsuits, and this was the reason their insurance rates were shooting up. But that simply doesn’t make sense: why raise doctor’s premiums when making lots of money? The same is true for how they justify raising individual health insurance rates. I’ve written about the misleading Oklahoma tort “reform,” and now New York malpractice entitlements may become law. Who does this help? Nobody, except maybe insurance companies.

Most people injured by malpractice don’t even sue. And those that do, only account for 1-2% of healthcare costs. Lawyers and doctors both want the same thing: safe and healthy patients. And bad doctors—there are a few, but they certainly aren’t the norm—hurt not just their patients, but all the good doctors, too. We should be on the same side.

How do we improve this? By providing better care, to reduce malpractice. It worked in New York, where simple care improvements reduced the costs of malpractice litigation by 99%. Yes, 99%. And then there’s the checklist solution, that did for some hospitals what checklists did for the aviation industry: radically reduced unnecessary human error, saving lives.

I’m sure some insurance company executives want to save lives, and would consider encouraging doctors to implement these types of reforms to help their already-bulging bottom line. But the proof is in the pudding: the largest insurance companies had six lobbyists for every legislator, sent to kill any meaningful reform efforts. They spent millions to do it! And most injured patients have just one representative: a plaintiff’s attorney. They don’t want a fair fight, they want no fight.

What do you think? Let me know by posting a comment below!

Previous Malpractice Entitlements Articles:

27 Comments

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  1. Razia says:
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    You make a great point that the large majority of malpractice never becomes a claim. There are mistakes that happen every day. I would like to see an article on how a plaintiff attorney decides to file a lawsuit. It seems that when a patient goes to attorney wanting to sue the doctor, the plaintiff attorney doesn’t have time right then and there to figure out who is at fault, if anyone, so they file a claim and name everyone that had any involvement. Than, as they go through depositions etc, they dismiss certain people from the case. People don’t realize that it cost the medical malpractice insurance company thousands of dollars every time they defend a case where their doctor gets dismissed. I think there needs to be some stronger guidelines on filing a claim. If I am wrong on this I would like to hear the authors thoughts.

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    Razia,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I would suggest that, when time constraints are an issue (such as the statute of limitations, which sets the time window when you are allowed to file suit), filing with “everyone” who could be at fault is required. That’s why malpractice entitlements like tort reform are counterproductive, because they tend to shorten the statute of limitations. Thus, by the time the patient (or, if the patient passed away, her family) gets an attorney, it may be very close to the end of the statute of limitations.

    I think plaintiff’s attorneys’ and insurance companies’ interests are aligned on this point: the plaintiff’s attorneys are spending money taking those depositions, too, and I don’t know any plaintiff’s attorney who would not much prefer being able to hone the case down to the real culprit before even considering filing suit. It saves expenses, time, energy, and frustration.

  3. jc says:
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    Right now, the plaintiff attorneys are doing no research on cases before filing. That is why they lose 80% of cases that go to trial and 70% of cases are dismissed without payment. Ohio needs to pass a law stating that the clerk of courts cannot accept a malpractice suit without an Affidavit of Merit against the doc filed with the malpractice suit. That would force plaintiff attorneys to do some minimal research before filing a claim.

  4. jc says:
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    Maybe Bill Eadie doesn’t know this, but if a patient comes into his office with a complaint, the plaintiff’s attorney can always extend the statute of limitations in Ohio with a 180 day letter. That allows the attorney half a year to examine the case and determine whether true malpractice has occurred.

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    JC,

    Thanks for commenting.

    There already is an affidavit of merit requirement. Courts will allow some leeway by granting you an additional 90 days to file the AOM, but they do not have to do that.

    I am aware of the 180-day letters–I’ve sent many of them myself–and we do use them to try and prevent filing suit when more research might reveal people who can be kept off the complaint. They are an attempt to mitigate the negative effects of a far-too-short statute of limitations period. But they are better than nothing.

    But they only work if you already know who may be responsible. This is often impossible with the medical records they will provide without the pressure of discovery (in, for example, a busy hospital setting where may people might have had contact with a single patient, left impossible-to-read notes signed with only initials, etc.

  6. jc says:
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    Show me in the Ohio Revised Code where it says that
    a plaintiff’s attorney has to file an affidavit of merit with the malpractice suit at the time the malpractice suit is filed. There is no Court in Ohio which will prevent a plaintiff’s attorney from filing a malpractice suit without an AOM. They will all give you 90 days to come up with an AOM, because the judges bend over backwards for plaintiff attorneys. Your arguments about lack of time and SOL are specious. You send out 180 day letters if SOL is an issue and, as a last resort, you can sue Dr. John Doe.
    Scatter shot suits against every doc whose name is on the chart is sloppy legal investigation and docs should be allowed to countersue plaintiff attorneys for that type of frivolous litigation. Remember, once you sue a doc, it effects his malpractive insurance rates and is on his record forever, regardless of the outcome of the case.

  7. jc says:
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    Bill I would also like to point out that malpractice litigation is highly specialized. Most attorneys do not possess the knowledge necessary to pursue this litigation. Yet the Ohio Bar Association sets no training requirements for a plaintiff’s attorney in this litigation. Is it any wonder that there are so many frivolous malpractice suits and that plaintiff attorneys lose 80% of cases that go to trial. Why doesn’t the legal profession police itself!

  8. jc says:
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    So far, Bill Eadie has not been able to show an ORC law which requires an affidavit of merit before a malpractice suit can be filed. Bill has also not been able to give an example of an Ohio court refusing to accept a malpractice suit without an AOM in Ohio history. So Bill Eadie is lying when he says that you have to have an affidavit of merit to file a malpractice suit in Ohio. Most malpractice suits filed in Ohio are filed without an AOM at the time of filing. In 90 days, the plaintiff’s attorney if he cannot get an affidavit of merit, he dismisses the case and can refile in a year. This effectively extends the SOL for a total of 2 years 3 months. Don’t cry for the plaintiff’s attorneys, they will find a way to screw docs.

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    JC,

    Thanks for commenting, and commenting again, but please be respectful in your comments. I have tried to do the same with you. I don’t lie in these posts, and I have no cause to distort things–I’d like the system to work better, too, and while we may disagree about how that could work, it is not my desire to reach some predetermined end point through lies.

    For information on the AOM requirement, look to Ohio Civil Rule 10(d)(2). (Civil Rule 10 governs the form of pleadings–the requirements for how you must prepare documents.)

    Here’s a link to a pdf of the Civil Rules: http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/LegalResources/Rules/civil/CivilProcedure.pdf

    Here’s Rule 10(d)(2), pasted from the above-linked PDF:

    (2) Affidavit of merit; medical liability claim.
    (a) Except as provided in division (D)(2)(b) of this rule, a complaint that contains a medical claim, dental claim, optometric claim, or chiropractic claim, as defined in section 2305.113 of the Revised Code, shall include one or more affidavits of merit relative to each defendant named in the complaint for whom expert testimony is necessary to establish liability. Affidavits of merit shall be provided by an expert witness pursuant to Rules 601(D) and 702 of the Ohio Rules of Evidence. Affidavits of merit shall include all of the following:
    (i) A statement that the affiant has reviewed all medical records reasonably
    available to the plaintiff concerning the allegations contained in the complaint;
    (ii) A statement that the affiant is familiar with the applicable standard of care;
    (iii) The opinion of the affiant that the standard of care was breached by one or
    more of the defendants to the action and that the breach caused injury to the plaintiff.
    (b) The plaintiff may file a motion to extend the period of time to file an affidavit of merit. The motion shall be filed by the plaintiff with the complaint. For good cause shown and in
    accordance with division (c) of this rule, the court shall grant the plaintiff a reasonable period of time to file an affidavit of merit, not to exceed ninety days, except the time may be extended beyond ninety days if the court determines that a defendant or non-party has failed to cooperate with discovery or that other circumstances warrant extension.
    (c) In determining whether good cause exists to extend the period of time to file an affidavit of merit, the court shall consider the following:
    (i) A description of any information necessary in order to obtain an affidavit of merit;
    (ii) Whether the information is in the possession or control of a defendant or third party;
    (iii) The scope and type of discovery necessary to obtain the information;
    (iv) What efforts, if any, were taken to obtain the information;
    (v) Any other facts or circumstances relevant to the ability of the plaintiff to obtain an affidavit of merit.
    (d) An affidavit of merit is required to establish the adequacy of the complaint and shall not otherwise be admissible as evidence or used for purposes of impeachment. Any dismissal for the failure to comply with this rule shall operate as a failure otherwise than on the merits.
    (e) If an affidavit of merit as required by this rule has been filed as to any defendant along with the complaint or amended complaint in which claims are first asserted against that defendant, and the affidavit of merit is determined by the court to be defective pursuant to the provisions of division (D)(2)(a) of this rule, the court shall grant the plaintiff a reasonable time, not to exceed sixty days, to file an affidavit of merit intended to cure the defect.

  10. up arrow

    As for your earlier points, “You send out 180 day letters if SOL is an issue and, as a last resort, you can sue Dr. John Doe.”

    For your information, since I get the feeling you don’t know much about how these things actually work and that you’re not reading my responses too closely, 180-day letters are only effective if the potential-defendant receives them before the statute runs. Like I said, and imperfect attempt to fix a too-short SOL, because you do not always know all the actors who may be involved. but it is better than nothing.

    John Doe pleading (under Civil Rule 15) was eviscerated by a 2010 Ohio Supreme Court decision, Erwin vs. Bryan. (PDF of decision: http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/0/2010/2010-ohio-2202.pdf)

    The Erwin decision change what attorneys understood the rule to mean. before, the idea was that, if you knew someone else might have been involved (like a hospital tech), but could not discover who they were before you had to file suit to protect the statute, you could name “John Doe,” file suit, get the records you needed to identify the person, and then amend the complaint to name them (within a year of filing suit). That’s certainly how the Rule reads.

    But the Court held that you still had to serve the complaint to these unknown people within the statute of limitations. How could you serve someone who you don’t know? The court held that the rule wasn’t to allow you to serve unknown actors, just people whose NAME you don’t know, but who you could still sufficiently describe in all other respects so closely that they someone could serve them with the Complaint merely from that description.

    Here’s what the court said in its syllabus:

    SYLLABUS OF THE COURT

    1. Pursuant to Civ.R. 15(D), a complaint against a party whose name is unknown must describe the defendant and a summons containing the words “name unknown” must be personally served on the defendant.

    2. Civ.R. 15(D) does not authorize a claimant to designate defendants using fictitious names as placeholders in a complaint filed within the statute-of-limitations period and then identify, name, and personally serve those defendants after the limitations period has elapsed.

    Again, JC, these are just facts; we can disagree on the pros and cons, but there’s no need to resort to slurs on my integrity.

  11. jc says:
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    Right there in your civil rules it states, “plaintiff may file a motion to extend period of time to file an affidavit of merit . . .the court shall grant the plaintiff a reasonable period of time to file an AOM not to exceed 90 days” The court always grants those motions! I know because I was the victim of this tactic and no AOM was ever produced, and the case was dropped after 90 days. Yet, my malpractice carrier had to pay out $5k to answer the complaint and my malpractice rates were increased and I have to report this case whenever I apply for med staff privileges forever. So for you to say that you have to have an affidavit of merit to file a malpractice suit is untrue.

  12. jc says:
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    So we have established that frivolous malpractice suits are filed, often without an affidavit of merit. Regardless of what Bill Eadie says, that really effects malpractice rates. My Ob-Gyn friends pay $150,000 per year for malpractice. In one small Ohio town, two family docs recently dropped OB. They delivered 60 babies a year, never had a claim and it costs $1,000 in malpractice per baby they delivered, yet they could only collect $1800 for the entire care and birth. Often Neurosurgeons will pay over $200K for malpractice
    Yet another friend of mine, who now works in Texas, pays a third of what I do for malpractice insurance. Don’t believe Bill Eadie and politicians when they tell you that malpractice rates go up when insurance companies make bad investments. Think about it, Texas malpractice insurance companies are not 3 times better at investing than Ohio malpractice companies. Texas has better malpractice laws than Ohio and Texas is now contemplating a “loser pays” law, which would force plaintiffs and their lawyers (that means you, Bill Eadie!) to pay defendants legal costs when they lose frivolous lawsuits. That’s one of the reasons Texas is number one in job growth and business climate in the U.S.A.

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    JC,

    I appreciate you have strong feelings on the matter, and that you were willing to share your anecdotes about two friends of yours. I don’t support “frivolous” lawsuits, either, but the “frivolous lawsuit” boogeyman you rail on about isn’t accurate, and it doesn’t justify denying people fair compensation for their injuries at the hands of careless doctors. I assume, just like I don’t like frivolous lawsuits, you don’t like careless doctors. So in that sense, we’re in agreement.

    The crux of your mistake is in thinking frivolous lawsuits drive actual malpractice rates, or that you reduce frivolous lawsuits by changing the rules by making “loser-pays.”

    People are allowed to file a lawsuit because they believe they have been injured by someone else. Welcome to America. If the problem you have is that simply being named in a lawsuit makes your rates go up, that’s a problem with the insurance industry (that makes a LOT of money off you, by the way). You don’t think it is right to take away peoples’ rights just to help your insurance company make more money, and charge you less.

    Insurance companies use tort reform and “frivolous lawsuit” boogeymen to pit GOOD lawyers and GOOD doctors against each other, for their own benefit. You can go on being vitriolic and citing anecdotal reports all you want, but I prefer not to trade both of our constitutional rights to an open justice system so a corporation can increase their bottom line and hopefully go easy on your rates.

    Neither should you.

    PS, here is a Wharton paper on the hard/soft cycle markets, and that the “crisis” in med-mal premiums is not really about frivolous lawsuits at all: http://sshuebner.org/documents/13b.pdf

    And here’s a report–disclaimer, it is by an association for trial lawyers–that points out that tort reform DOES have a huge impact. but on insurance company profits, NOT premiums doctors pay: http://www.justice.org/clips/Insurance_Company_Handout.pdf

    In any event, you fail to even address why the fact that you don’t like your premiums is a reason to give any doctor a “pass” when it comes to their responsibility for when they hurt people.

  14. jc says:
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    Bill, your last response is so factually incorrect and target rich, that I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony. I care about bad docs which is why I served on a hospital Q/A committee for a decade, monitoring med complications and infection rates. We disciplined docs and restricted privileges. What have you or the Ohio Bar Association done to address the 80% loss rate plaintiff attorneys have when they take a malpractice cases to trial? Has the Ohio Bar Association ever disciplined a lawyer for filing a frivolous malpractice lawsuit?
    Malpractice litigation costs the USA $100-$200 Billion a year in litigation costs and defensive medicine according to the Washington Post
    (7/31/09) and Wall Street Journal. In my example
    where myself and 9 other docs got sued without an
    affidavit of merit, it cost my insurance co. 5K
    and the other docs 5K apiece to defend this, and
    that 50K had to come from somewhere.
    I want my malpractice co. to make big profits in Ohio. That will encourage other malpractice co. to enter Ohio and compete. Welcome to America, Bill, competition will drive down my malpractice rates!
    As for depriving people of their god given right to sue- -we have already done that in industry after industry. Can’t sue a brokerage for stealing your money, gotta go thru arbitration. Can’t sue the power company when the lights go out, gotta go to PUC. Worker gets leg cut off at Ford, go to Worker’s Compensation. Why is it that a severed leg on Ford’s factory floor is worth less than a severed leg on the surgical suite floor?
    So you want docs to go thru the litigation process
    when they make a mistake, but you don’t want docs to be allowed to countersue plaintiff attorneys when they file frivolous lawsuits, is that what you are saying Bill?
    P.S. The way to compensate patients is in specialized medical courts with standard amounts.
    P.S.S. I encourage docs reading this column to share their frivolous lawsuits stories. They are truly unbelievable!

  15. jc says:
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    Don’t the readers of this blog think it is a bit arrogant of a young plaintiff’s attorney like Bill Eadie to be lecturing the medical profession about how to better practice medicine? A few years ago, a colleague of mine dictated and signed a correct consultation and sent it to the referring doc. When the hospital went to electronic records, the typist made a typographical mistake and put it on the electronic record. That typo was sent to a plaintiff’s attorney who sued my colleague for 6 years. Turns out the patients pain had nothing to do with the subject of the consultation. Finally a judge threw the case out a week before trial. Cost the malpractice co. 25k for this six year trip thru legal hell. Why doesn’t Bill Eadie spend some time lecturing the Ohio Bar Association or his legal peers about plaintiff lawyers doing some research before they file a malpractice suit?

  16. jc says:
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    Bill Eadie doesn’t want to give up the patient’s god given right to sue which we have had since the founding of the USA 225 years ago. A lot has changed in the past 225 years. At that time doctors would bleed patients with leaches, now we us CT and MRI scans and robotic surgery. Now, after years of malpractice litigation, plaintiff attorneys bleed their clients with up to 60% contingency fees and legal costs on any award. With Obamacare on the horizon, things gotta change Bill!

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    JC,

    I don’t think anything could be quite as arrogant as your comments, but again, there is no reason to attack me personally unless you don’t have the facts on your side. More to the point, I don’t think we need to be on opposite “sides” at all.

    Malpractice is bad–medical OR legal. I am against both, and I hope you are, too. The facts are straightforward: (1) reducing malpractice is best done by focusing on malpractice; (2) insurance companies make a lot of money and do not need to hammer good doctors; (3) the “malpractice insurance crisis” is not the product of medical malpractice lawsuits.

  18. jc says:
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    “We can reduce malpractice by providing better care.” That is a sentence in your leading article and comment. Any doc reading that statement really learned a lot! Doctors have focused on malpractice and subspecialize and take risk management. Insurance companies make money in reasonable malpractice enviornments. 10 yrs ago, Ohio had a malpractice crisis, and insurance co., Ob-Gyns, and Neurosurgeons were leaving the state. We go “pain & suffering” caps thru the Ohio legislature and Ohio Supreme Court and my malpractice rates have been come down 25%. Bill Eadie has his pet articles favored by the plaintiff’s bar about malpractice litigation costs. I have articles from the WSJ and Washington Post refuting Bill’s articles, and then there is my personal experience. So who are you gonna believe – -me or Bill Eadie? Plaintiff attorneys lose 80% of trial cases after years of litigation. When they win they take up to 60% of the award from their clients. I cannot think of a worse system – -it only benefits plaintiff attorneys!

  19. up arrow

    Thanks for your ongoing comments, JC. Your latest comment highlights exactly what’s wrong with the current approach: you think it is “us” against “them”–doctors against lawyers. That doesn’t make sense, and it isn’t grounded in reality, but insurance company propaganda. You should look at evidence, not WSJ op-ed pages.

    Here’s some reading for you–from people looking at evidence:

    “There is a fairly weak relationship between malpractice payments (for judgments and settlements) and premiums – both overall and by specialty.” (pg. 14). (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~kbaicker/BaickerChandraMedMal.pdf)

    “Past and present malpractice payments do not seem to be the driving force behind increases in premiums. Premium growth may be affected by many factors beyond increases in payments, such as industry competition and the insurance underwriting cycle. (pg. 20). (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~kbaicker/BaickerChandraMedMal.pdf)

    “ California doctors’ premiums increased by 450% in the first 13 years after the 1975 passage of MI CR A and only began to decrease after voters enacted the insurance reform initiative known as Proposition 103.” (Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, “How Insurance Reform Lowered Doctor’s Medical Malpractice Rates In California …And How Malpractice Caps Failed,” March 2003, http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/rp/rp003103.pdf)

    And here’s some reading from people who are supposed to be pro-malpractice-entitlements, but admit that it won’t lower your premiums:

    “[M]any tort reform advocates do not contend that restricting litigation will lower insurance rates, and ‘I’ve never said that in 30 years.’” (Victor Schwartz, General Counsel, American Tort Reform Association, Business Insurance, July 19, 1999)
    “Insurers never promised that tort reform would achieve specific premium savings . . .” ( March 13, 2002 press release by the American Insurance Association)
    “Tort reform” advocates have long rejected the notion that enactment of caps on damages would lower insurance rates See: http://centerjd.org/air/pr/Quotes.pdf
    “We wouldn’t tell you or anyone that the reason to pass tort reform would be to reduce insurance rates.” (Sherman Joyce, President of the American Tort Reform Association, as quoted in “Study Finds No Link Between Tort Reforms and Insurance Rates,” Liability Week, July 19, 1999)
    “In 1986, after insurers and doctors lobbied for, and Florida lawmakers enacted, a cap on nonecomic damages for medical malpractice claims, insurers Aetna and St. Paul increased doctors’ premiums. The companies argued that, despite earlier promises, malpractice caps do not actually lead to savings for doctors, much in the manner of Medical Protective in its recent Texas filing.” (News Release from Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, “Nation’s Largest Medical Malpractice Insurer Declares Caps on Damages Don’t Work, Raises Docs’ Premiums,” 10/26/04 )
    “No responsible insurer can cut its rates after a [medical malpractice tort ‘reform’] bill passes.” (Bob White, President of First Professional Insurance Company, the largest medical malpractice insurer in Florida , talking about a proposed $250,000 cap in the January 29, 2003 Palm Beach Post)

    More reading: http://www.saynotocaps.org/factsandfigures/justthefacts.htm

    You have been misled, JC, and you are fighting someone who is on your side–we’re both against malpractice, and we’re both against outrageous insurance premiums that prevent good doctors from practicing medicine. So why be so rude?

  20. jc says:
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    Bill, all I know is 10 years ago, before pain and suffering caps, my malpractice premiums were 25% more than they are today. I write the premium checks so I have seen the decrease. Money talks & I am not going to pay 25% more because articles you quote say that tort reform has no effect. So we disagree on this point. You and I probably agree that there should be no mistakes in medicine or in malpractice law. Yet legal malpractice during malpractice litigation is rampent! I believe inexperienced lawyers are allowed to file malpractice lawsuits which is the legal equivalent of allowing family docs to do neurosurgery–legal malpractice is bound to happen. So how would you fix this? Should the Ohio Bar require lawyers to have adequate training before they file these suits? Should docs be allowed to countersue plaintiff attorneys for frivolous litigation?

  21. Mike Bryant says:
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    JC using only initials? why aren’t you using your full name? You say “Bill” in you last comment like you know him, but what do we call you “J?”
    Sounds like you are a doctor and like the protection that doctors have there to being able to hurt someone as bad as possible, but to have their liability capped. Do they hide the results of the review panels there also? Do you think the abysmal care that people get in Texas is really the way to go?
    How about the method of treating consumers respectfully and making sure they get the best care?
    Much of what you have said seems to be anger that should really be addressed at the insurance companies. Ask them why the rates are so high. For attorneys it is usually the highest when they are involved in major money cases. Are the premiums really just a cut of a very large profit margin? Are they being passed off with more profit making “defensive medicine”?
    Rant and rave about lawyers all you want, the injured person is really the one that the doctor took a oath to protect.

  22. jc says:
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    Mike – I don’t use my name because of a legitimate fear of the plaintiff’s bar. Arguments about malpractice insurance companies making lots of money are garbage that plaintiff attorneys and politicians pass because they do not want to address the frivolous malpractice issue. Plaintiff attorneys have a better chance of winning a coin flipping contest than winning a jury trial. It is hard to argue that plaintiff attorneys are serving the best interests of injured persons when they lose 80% of the time at trial after years of litigation and then take 60% of the award! So I have suggested since the Ohio Bar association refuses to require legal subspecialization for malpractice litigation, that docs be allowed to countersue plaintiff attorneys when they lose malpractice cases. That will force plaintiff attorneys to more carefully select and present their cases. This would be a good referendum issue, and Ohio citizens would go for it. P.S. – -medical care in Ohio is no different than in Texas, just the malpractice litigation enviornment is better in Texas.

  23. Mike Bryant says:
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    Looks to me like you don’t use your name so you can make things up. Minnesota has low premiums, low number of lawsuits and top notch medical care. It’s a system that works. It’s fair and safe for the consumer. Texas can’t say the same. Looks like a haven for bad doctors.

  24. jc says:
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    Don’t know where you get your info on Texas. My friend moved from Ohio to Texas and he has the same practice pattern and speciality that I have. He pays about a third of what I pay in malpractice premiums. He also tells me he gets paid half what he was previously paid because medical insurance costs to the consumer are less than what they are in Ohio. Lower malpractic premiums, less malpractice frivolous suits, lower medical costs, lower taxes – -no wonder Texas is growing while Ohio had the second worse job loss picture in USA.
    Now Gov. Perry is trying to pass “loser pays” which will kill off these frivolous suits – -I am thinking of moving to Texas.

  25. jc says:
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    I just talked to our county clerk of courts in my county in Ohio. She told me that she had been in the clerks office for 15 years and she has never refused to file a malpractice suit because of lack of affidavit of merit. She has never seen a judge refuse to accept a malpractice case because of no affidavit of merit-
    judges will always give the plaintiff’s attorney time to get the affidavit of merit. So Bill Eadie is less than honest when he said that you have to have and affidavit of merit to file a malpractice suit in Ohio.

  26. up arrow

    JC,

    All your examples are anecdotal–“my friend in TX,” “I just called someone who said.” You should review the facts–they don’t support malpractice entitlements. The only people tort reform helps are insurance companies.

  27. jc says:
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    Another Bill Eadie myth: The Statute of Limitations is too short in Ohio, it is only 1 year. O.k., but again that is not how it works in practice. A plaintiff’s attorney gets a case 6 months after the incident. He waits until the last day of the statute of limitations (1 year) and sends out a 180 day letter (6 months). After a year and a half, he files a malpractice lawsuit without and affidavit of merit and waits 90 days (3 mo) to voluntarily drop the case without prejudice. He waits a year and re-files the case and waits another 3 months to file his affidavit of merit. My math says that the plaintiff’s attorney was able to extend the statute of limitations by two years for a total of 3 years. I have seen this senerio play out. Yet Bill Eadie tells the readers of this blog that the SOL is only 1 year in Ohio and you have to have an affidavit of merit to file a malpractice suit. If we cannot trust Bill Eadie to accurately present how malpractice law is practiced in Ohio, how can we expect him to accurately quote “non-biased” articles supporting his position that frivolous lawsuits are not a factor in malpractice insurance costs. (Do you really believe the Committee for Justice for All is non-biased?) Readers, the Wall Street Journal says malpractice litigation adds $100 -$200 billion a year in medical costs. I have given you personal examples of frivolous malpractice cases and costs with far more to come. Who you gonna believe, me or Bill Eadie.

    ————————————–
    William Eadie Comment Response (sorry, comments were closed–I was at a conference this weekend):

    JC, you were just starting to be polite. Once again, you think it is “me or Bill Eadie.” You’ve been duped!

    Just so you know, 1 year is far too short a statute of limitations. I’ve had multiple conversations with seriously injured people who were focused on their health, not lawsuits (as well they should be), and a year flies by. If you are a doctor, you can understand that.

    “A plaintiff’s attorney gets a case 6 months after the incident.” Sometimes. Sometimes not. Yes, you can extend the statute with 180-day letters, and yes, you can dismiss and re-file. But what you miss is that (1) if you didn’t name the right person the first time, and get that 180-day letter in their hands, you are out of luck; and (2) there is no point in cutting so short the time to research a case before filing.

    If it is a legitimate lawsuit, why shift the cost of that injury to taxpayers instead of profitable insurance companies, who accepted the risk in the first place? Putting an arbitrarily-short time limit is taking a hammer to a hangnail–you get rid of the bad and the good. Short statute of limitations = more taxes, fewer jobs, and one more injured person who is stuck on medicare or medicaid. You don’t support that, do you?

    Remember, you’re the one who complains about frivolous lawsuits (despite the facts). More research = less need to file against “everyone.”