CJAC: Civil Justice Association of California

Voice Your Opposition to Trial Lawyers' MICRA Changes

Posted on 07/22/2013 @ 08:00 PM

Tags: Medical Liability/MICRA

Trial lawyers continue to wage an aggressive campaign to change California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) (see our previous post here). We urge you to contact your state representatives and explain the devastating impact this would have on California's healthcare system!

Below is a sample constituent letter that can also be used as talking points. You can find your legislators' contact information here. Please call us at 916-443-4900 if you have any questions.

Dear (legislator's name),

Recently there have been renewed efforts to alter California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), which sets parameters for compensation in medical malpractice cases. Trial lawyers and their allies are calling for a legislative change to quadruple MICRA's limit on non-economic damages to $1 million or eliminate it altogether.

I urge you to oppose this change to MICRA.

Under MICRA, patients are entitled to unlimited economic damages for any and all past and future medical costs, lost wages, and lifetime earning potential. They are also entitled to unlimited punitive damages. Additionally, patients can receive up to $250,000 for non-economic damages.

Trial lawyers are targeting the limit on non-economic damages so that the payouts in lawsuits will be higher, making it easier for them to earn more in legal fees and creating greater incentives for filing meritless lawsuits.

Raising or eliminating the limit on non-economic damages will hurt doctors, hospitals, community clinics and other providers by increasing medical liability costs. One recent study shows that increasing the amount of non-economic damages allowed under MICRA just from $250,000 to $500,000 would raise healthcare costs in California by at least $9.5 billion annually.

Increased liability costs will limit the state’s ability to accommodate new patients and will make it harder to attract doctors when there is already a shortage of medical providers.

We need to stay focused on lowering health care costs and expanding access to all Californians, not on policy changes that would make lawyers richer at the expense of everyone else. The trial lawyer-sponsored changes are opposed by more than 700 healthcare and other organizations because of the negative impact they would have.

MICRA is good public policy because it fairly compensates patients while lowering health care costs and improving patient access to care. Please reject the trial-lawyer sponsored changes to MICRA and protect California's healthcare system.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

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California Ranked 4th Worst State for Business in New CNBC Report

Posted on 07/11/2013 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: Legal Climate

CNBC has released a new report that scores all 50 states on their business climates and once again California has been ranked near the bottom of the nation - 47th in this report. This is just the latest of many reports over the years to give California such a ranking.

This should serve as a reminder that excessive litigation contributes to the extremely high cost of doing business in California.

Take a look at the rankings here.

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ADA Lawsuit Forces Popular Folsom Restaurant To Shut Down

Posted on 07/08/2013 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: Americans with Disabilities Act

We regret to report that the Lake Forest Cafe, a popular restaurant in Folsom that has been open for 31 years, served its final meal yesterday after succumbing to an ADA lawsuit. The restaurant was sued by a man who has filed 27 lawsuits since January 2012, according to KCRA.

Owner Barbara Rubin told KCRA, "I could see the writing on the wall once we went into litigation. I knew there was no way I could turn it around. I do not have the financial ability to stay."

The story shows that ADA lawsuits continue to take a toll even with the passage of SB 1186 in California last year.

Read more here.

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Public Affairs Conference Recap

Posted on 07/08/2013 @ 10:00 AM

We are happy to report that our first-ever public affairs conference was a great success! From June 26th-28th political and legal experts from across the state gathered at the Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach to discuss a wide variety of issues affecting California.

Please click here to see some photos and more info about the conference.

Thank you so much to all who participated and made the event possible. We look forward to hosting more like it in the future.

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Update on MICRA Fight

Posted on 06/21/2013 @ 04:00 PM

Tags: Medical Liability/MICRA

We recently reported that the plaintiffs' bar had begun a new campaign to overturn California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), a law that limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases but allows for unlimited economic and punitive damages. They are threatening to put a measure on the ballot in 2014 if the Legislature does not at least quadruple the non-economic damages limit.

In addition to that announcement in early May and posting a billboard in Sacramento, the plaintiffs' bar has also begun running a TV ad in Sacramento and sending direct mail to a few Sacramento households pushing for changes to MICRA.

Additionally, the Consumer Attorneys of California, the organization that lobbies for plaintiffs' lawyers, recently partnered with additional contract lobbyists in Sacramento, a move that suggests they will make a push in the Legislature this year against MICRA.

Thus far, none of their new lobbyists nor their political campaign seem to be getting much traction, but CJAC continues to prepare for any such attempt and will join with the MICRA coalition in forcefully defending the law. To date, no bill has been introduced.

Meanwhile, we also continue to fight the plaintiffs' bar in the courts on the MICRA issue. Fortunately, their challenges continue to hit a brick wall. This week the 1st Appellate District heard arguments in Gavello v. Millman and Fred Hiestand, General Counsel for CJAC, appeared in court as amicus curiae to defend MICRA. As the Daily Journal reported, the judges did not appear interested in meddling with the law. You can read CJAC's amicus brief in this case here.

The goal of plaintiffs' lawyers of course is to generate larger lawsuit payouts against health care providers and legal fees for themselves. The result would be increased health care costs and reduced access for patients to care from the doctors they know and trust.

To stay informed as updates arise, please sign up for our monthly newsletter here and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We will need you to take action as this battle plays out.

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