Update on MICRA Fight
Posted on 06/21/2013 @ 04:00 PM
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.
CJAC Public Affairs Conference is One Week Away...
Posted on 06/19/2013 @ 07:00 PM
CJAC's public affairs conference, California and the Courts, is one week away! The final agenda can be found here, along with registration and sponsorship information.
We are very excited to be hosting the chairmen of the California Republican and Democratic parties, Jim Brulte and John Burton, along with many other political and legal experts that will serve as panelists on Thursday and Friday (June 27-28).
We hope to see you! Please let us know as soon as possible if you can join us.
Lots of Wins As Legislative Year Reaches Halfway Point
Posted on 06/03/2013 @ 07:00 PM
We have reached the halfway point of the legislative year and we are pleased to report that 21 of the 31 bills we opposed at the start of the session have already been stopped or adequately amended. Additionally, 19 bills that we are supporting are still alive.
We've had a number of significant victories during the first half of the legislative year. Just last week, we and our coalition members defeated AB 802 by Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), which would have created onerous requirements for arbitration companies. The bill was not taken up on the Assembly floor due to lack of support and cannot move forward this year.
We also stopped SB 617 by Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), which would have expanded the reasons for which California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuits could be filed. The bill was not taken up on the Senate floor and is dead for the year.
Meanwhile, efforts to reform CEQA and Prop. 65 continue to move forward. SB 731 (Steinberg), AB 37 (Perea), and AB 417 (Frazier) are all CEQA reform bills supported by CJAC and have advanced to the next house. AB 227, Assemblymember Mike Gatto's Prop. 65 reform bill, was approved by the Assembly unanimously and will now be considered by the Senate.
Please go to the Legislative Center on our website for more information on all the bills we are tracking.
Plaintiffs' Lawyers Threatening MICRA
Posted on 05/31/2013 @ 07:00 PM
The plaintiffs' bar is making new threats against California's long-standing medical malpractice liability law (the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act - MICRA).
Consumer Watchdog held a press conference in early May at the State Capitol announcing that it would pursue an initiative for the 2014 ballot if the Legislature does not change MICRA's limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases (the limit is currently $250,000, while economic and punitive damages are unlimited).
Then last week, the Consumer Attorneys of California paid for a billboard that went up in Sacramento attacking MICRA. You can read more about it here.
We will be fighting any attempt to change MICRA every step of the way - whether it is in the Legislature or on the ballot. While there is still no specific proposal, it is important for all of us to remain vigilant in protecting MICRA. Allowing for higher non-economic damages will dramatically increase the cost of medical malpractice insurance, which will hurt every medical provider in the state and result in reduced healthcare access for patients. Out of control medical liability costs were exactly what led to the enactment of MICRA (which was signed into law by Jerry Brown during his first stint as Governor).
For more information about the importance of MICRA to California's healthcare system, please go to www.micra.org.
Update on CJAC Public Affairs Conference
Posted on 05/22/2013 @ 07:00 PM
There are some updates to the agenda for CJAC's first public affairs conference, California and the Courts, which is taking place June 26-28 at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach. The conference will analyze the political climate in California and what impact it will have on the state's judicial system.
Here is the latest list of topics and panelists:
Thursday, June 27th
California Politics in 2014: A Party Perspective - Panelists: Jim Brulte, California Republican Party and Jim DeBoo, California Assembly Democrats
National Trends - Panelists: Daniel Gatoff, Lake Research and Lori Weigel, Public Opinion Strategies
Lunch Keynote Speaker - Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs
Food Court - Prop 65 and Food Lawsuits - Panelists: Benjamin Broderick, Theodora Oringher and Michael Steel, Morrison & Foerster
Corporate Litigation Perspectives - William E. Thomson, Gibson Dunn: "The Real Story Behind the Chevron/Ecuador Litigation" and Don Marshall, Toyota: "Perspectives on California Litigation"
Friday, June 28th
A Legislator's Perspective - Senators Marty Block and Mimi Walters; Assemblymembers Mike Gatto, Jimmy Gomez, Al Muratsuchi, and Don Wagner
If you are interested in attending, click here for more information.