Let’s drop the pretense. Anyone working in state legislative politics these days knows what goes on: industries with money or clout line up each year to get their own special laws ensuring they are never held responsible for anything they do wrong. The people who are always hurt by this are everyday Americans who do not even know these law have passed until they are hurt and then learn there’s nothing they can do.
These laws aren’t so-called “tort reforms.” They’re immunity laws. Their purpose is not to make the world a better place, but to immunize from liability the medical industry, polluters, drug companies, and whoever else is dumping money on state politicians. And these special interests are doing everything they can to convince decent, hardworking Americans to go along as their legal rights are simply taken away. Eliminated. Gone and never to return.
Take what’s happening in North Carolina, which is now considering atrocious legislation that would provide immunity not only to negligent emergency room personnel, but to the entire pharmaceutical industry. Forget that more preventable errors occur in an ER than in any other place in a hospital, or that in states like Texas where a similar immunity law was passed, ER’s have now become even more dangerous. Meanwhile, no patient has any recourse if they or their child is permanently disabled, disfigured, brain-damaged or killed. This bill would essentially make “negligence in the ER legal” in North Carolina, too.
As for drug industry immunity, it seems NC is thinking about adopting the horrendous law that Michigan passed in the 1990s to make it impossible for anyone hurt or killed by a defective or dangerous FDA-approved drug to file suit there – something that even our very pro-business U.S. Supreme Court said was a terrible idea.
Then there’s Florida, which has a new way of looking at the immunity issue – making sure it doesn’t apply when rich people are hurt or killed. Just poor people. Here’s how the Palm Beach Post put it:
Florida would have a two-tiered legal system - one for the rich and one for the poor - under a GOP-backed legislative proposal designed to help doctors avoid malpractice lawsuits, opponents say.
If a Medicaid recipient is the victim of a medical mistake, the most he or his family could recover would be $200,000 under a provision of a Medicaid overhaul bill moving through the legislature.
The proposed cap, believed to be one of the most severe in the nation, could be lifted if it is proved a doctor acted maliciously.
However, lawyers say it's unlikely such a finding would ever be made. With a maximum $200,000 recovery, few lawyers would take a case involving one of the state's 2.9 million elderly and low-income Medicaid recipients.
"It would shut the door to the courthouse for everyone on Medicaid," said Spencer Kuvin, president of the Palm Beach County Justice Association.
We blogged about this idea a few months ago.
No offense, Oklahoma, but the Draconian “cap” on compensation that you just passed? That’s just so last decade.