Archives: December 2018

December 2018 Newsletter

An opinion on collateral source reform in Florida A recent op-ed by a former Florida legislator highlighted the dysfunction in the state’s liability system, including how the lack of collateral source reform in medical liability cases has led to inflated and unnecessary costs. Don Brown, previously a representative in the Florida House, weighed in on Florida’s recent number two position on American Tort Reform Association’s “Judicial Hellholes” list – and on one of the driving factors of increased liability across the state. “These inflated costs are exacerbated by the fact that Florida prohibits juries from seeing the payments made to plaintiffs by outside parties such as insurance companies,” Brown wrote. The issue at hand is the collateral source rule, where a defendant is prohibited from introducing in court any evidence of payments received by the plaintiff, from sources other than the defendant, which might remedy some of the plaintiff’s economic losses. The result is double recovery of damages by plaintiffs since both the defendant and another party, such as an insurance company, pay for the same loss. “The first, and most obvious solution, is to allow juries to see any outside compensation received by the plaintiff for treatment,” Brown suggested….

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Puerto Rico approves law to reduce medical malpractice suits

SOURCE: Associated Press Puerto Rico’s governor has signed a law to help reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. Ricardo Rossello announced on Monday that he will create 13 panels to review medical malpractice claims across the U.S. territory. Three people will serve on each panel, including a health expert, a public advocate and a lawyer or former judge. All patients making complaints — except indigent ones — will be require to make a bond-like payment to the panel. If the panel finds evidence of malpractice, the money would be returned. Similar panels are common in the United States and the governor said he hopes it will stop stem the exodus of doctors to the mainland. Puerto Rico on average sees 1,000 medical malpractice lawsuits a year. Officials say 900 are dismissed.

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“Judicial Hellholes” 2018/2019 Executive Summary

SOURCE: Judicial Hellholes The 2018 – 2019 Judicial Hellholes report shines its brightest spotlight on nine jurisdictions, courts or legislatures that have earned reputations as Judicial Hellholes. Some are known for welcoming litigation tourism or as hotbeds for asbestos litigation, and in all of them state leadership seems eager to expand civil liability. A recent study released by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform highlights both the overall cost and inefficiencies of the tort system. The report states that the cost and compensation paid in the U.S. tort system totaled $429 billion in 2016, accounting for 2.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. The 2018-2019 Judicial Hellholes jurisdictions largely contributed to these costs, and on a local level, they saw job loss, personal income loss, and state revenue loss due to the excessive tort costs in the states. The data clearly demonstrate the need for a more balanced civil justice system. #1 CALIFORNIA A perennial Judicial Hellhole, California has once again regained its position atop the Judicial Hellholes list due to the propensity of California judges and legislators to extend liability at almost every given opportunity. California courts have adopted novel theories of liability and unique California laws…

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DON BROWN: Inaccuracy in damages a problem in Florida

SOURCE: Northwest Florida Daily News No doubt, Florida has its fair share of litigious problems. We are, after all, one of the nation’s most notorious “Judicial Hellholes” according to the American Tort Reform Foundation. Just recently, Florida was ranked number two on their 2018-2019 list, namely for assignment of benefits abuse and expansion of medical liability. However, one of the worst judicial plagues facing our state is the persistent over-inflation of medical damages. As explained by the Florida Justice Reform Institute, medical providers typically bill for much more than what they are actually willing to accept in payment, therefore resulting in medical invoices that exceed the real costs of treatment. In the courtroom, plaintiffs only present to the jury a cost summary of medical expenses billed rather than the amount paid, which results in a vicious cycle of over-inflation of medical damages awarded. Furthermore, these inflated costs are exacerbated by the fact that Florida prohibits juries from seeing the payments made to plaintiffs by outside parties such as insurance companies. In simple terms, when juries are making decisions regarding damages, they are unable to properly consider the compensation the plaintiff has already received. As a result, the plaintiff is commonly…

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