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Is the limit for non-economic malpractice damages too low?
A ballot measure cleared for circulation last week would subject doctors to drug and alcohol testing but a separate provision of the measure would have a much greater impact on the medical community. The ballot initiative would raise a cap on noneconomic medical malpractice damages that was set at $250,000 in 1975 by adjusting it for inflation.
The new cap would raise the limit on damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress caused by medical malpractice to roughly $1.1 million. Supporters are still collecting signatures on the measure and already it’s shaping up to be one of the most expensive fights in California history.
The California Medical Association has already spent $5 million to defeat the measure and it isn’t even on the ballot yet. Backers of the measure say the cap is too low and dissuades lawyers from taking on malpractice suits. That same $250,000 limit placed in 1975 is worth only $58,000 in today’s dollars. Is the limit for non-economic malpractice damages too low?
Dr. Paul Phinney, Immediate Past President of the California Medical Association and a practicing pediatrician
Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog