AMA Wire

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This Week's News

Appeals courts uphold positive liability laws in California, Maryland

Appeals courts uphold positive liability laws in California, Maryland

Two important state liability reform laws were upheld earlier this month in rulings by appeals courts in California and Maryland. The Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies had filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the laws.

In Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, a personal injury plaintiff challenged a Maryland law that prevents recovery of damages in an act of negligence when the plaintiff's own negligence contributed to the injury. The plaintiff argued that the law was obsolete and unfair and should therefore be modified.

In a brief filed alongside the American Tort Reform Association and other national organizations, the AMA opposed the plaintiff's argument, which could open the door to further abusive litigation against physicians and others.

"The doctrine of contributory negligence fosters personal responsibility," the brief stated. "Adoption of comparative fault, particularly in its 'pure' form, would encourage 'horse play' and increase litigation, since plaintiffs who are substantially—or even mostly—at fault for their own harms could bring lawsuits."

On the other side of the country, California's landmark Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act was upheld after yet another challenge to the constitutionality of its $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages, a provision that has created a positive liability climate for physicians and patients in the state. View the brief filed by the AMA Litigation Center, the California Medical Association and other health care groups.

By providing legal assistance and expertise in cases such as these, the AMA Litigation Center provides a strong voice for physicians in the nation's courts on issues that can have a profound impact on the future of health care.