Archives: May 2019

May 2019 Newsletter

Minnesota liability ruling trends towards dangerous precedent for patients Setting a troubling precedent that could limit collaborative patient care efforts, the Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of expanding liability and opening the door for an increase in medical lawsuit abuse. In mid-April, the Court issued a ruling case of Warren v. Dinter, reversing precedent and stating that the existence of a physician-patient relationship was not a prerequisite for bringing forth a medical liability lawsuit. The Court declared that legal actions could proceed if the harm suffered by an individual — even if they were not considered a patient of the physician — was a “reasonably foreseeable consequence” of the physician’s actions. Supporting the defendant were the American Medical Association (AMA), Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), and the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA), on the basis that this new precedent could expose physicians and other health professionals to expanded liability risks in situations that were previously protected, including unbilled consultations, and discourage collaboration. “The overall expansive language in the Court’s opinion does raise concerns,” said Mark Fogg, general counsel of COPIC, MMA’s endorsed medical professional liability insurance provider. “We respectfully believe that it is important that a physician-patient relationship be established…

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Badly injured Oregonians urge lawmakers to eliminate $500k limit on lawsuits seeking pain-and-suffering compensation

SOURCE: The Oregonian It took nearly six years for Zeferino Vasquez to find out if he would get to keep the $6.2 million that a jury awarded him after he was paralyzed when an agricultural machine he was fixing suddenly flipped on and nearly squeezed the 21-year-old to death. Vasquez’s legal limbo ended last month when the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that a state cap on noneconomic damages didn’t apply in his case. He was due the full amount, the court ruled. His case had been tied up in the vast debate over an Oregon law that limits payouts to no more than $500,000 for pain and suffering, also known as noneconomic damages. The Legislature enacted the law 32 years ago, but it has a tortured history. The state Supreme Court has gone back and forth on whether the cap abides by the Oregon Constitution. A landmark 2016 ruling, Horton v. OHSU, appeared to reinstate the cap. But exceptions have been carved into case law and today uncertainty hangs over when the cap applies. State lawmakers are again considering whether it’s time to settle this long-standing issue by explicitly writing the cap out of existence. They tried two years ago…

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MN Supreme Court Rules Physician-Patient Relationship is Not Necessary to Sue Docs for Malpractice

SOURCE: Minnesota Medical Association In a case that could have wide-reaching implications for medical practice in Minnesota, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling on April 17 in the case of Warren v. Dinter holding that the existence of a physician-patient relationship is not a prerequisite for a medical malpractice action. Rather, a person may sue a physician for malpractice – even if that person was not a patient of the physician – if the harm suffered by the person was a “reasonably foreseeable consequence” of the physician’s actions. The MMA partnered with the AMA and the Minnesota Hospital Association to participate in the case as amici curiae, forcefully arguing that expanding physician liability outside of the physician-patient relationship would damage physician collaboration and informal consultation and ultimately harm patients. Despite this counsel, the Court issued a ruling that may hinder a physicians’ ability to collaborate with care partners. “The overall expansive language in the Court’s opinion does raise concerns,” said Mark Fogg, COPIC’s General Counsel. Colorado-based COPIC is the MMA’s endorsed medical professional liability insurance (MPLI) provider for its members. “We respectfully believe that it is important that a physician-patient relationship be established before any liability may occur for…

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