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Nov. 29, 2012–State malpractice bills go to Senate

Three of four medical malpractice bills have advanced to the Michigan Senate floor for votes, which could come as soon as today.

But the fourth — and most controversial — part of the package faces an uncertain future.

Bills that would limit damages to malpractice victims, tighten requirements for expert witnesses and limit the time frame for interest on monetary settlements were all released Tuesday from the Senate Insurance Committee. State Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, is the committee chairman.

The malpractice bills are among a host of bills, including new emergency manager provisions and elimination of the personal property tax, the Legislature could decide before adjourning for the year.

The bills include S.B. 1115, which would place limits on noneconomic damages, including a person’s loss of ability to perform essential household services.

S.B. 1117 would generally limit expert testimony in malpractice trials to those who performed essentially the same medical services at the same time as the defendant.

S.B. 1118, which disallows interest on attorney fees from before the judgment was issues, was introduced by Hune.

Malpractice attorney Marc Lipton said limiting preverdict damages could make victims more reluctant to sue.

“You’re increasing the costs of bringing a case and reducing what you can get in a settlement,” he said.

Hune, however, said he had met the attorneys and medical professionals to find a consensus.

Lipton is representing Howell Township meningitis patient Brenda Bansale in a lawsuit against the New England Compounding Center. He said the bills could have a chilling effect on future suits by those infected by tainted steroids in the national outbreak.

Hune, however, said the bills “wouldn’t involve the meningitis cases.”

The fourth bill, S.B. 1116, would have exempted medical professionals from liability if they acted with “reasonable good faith” based on medical practices and patients’ best interest.

While supporters considered that bill the centerpiece of malpractice reform, trial centerpiece of malpractice reform, trial lawyers said it would make it almost impossible to bring a malpractice case in Michigan.

Source: http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20121129/NEWS01/211290307/State-malpractice-bills-go-Senate?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage

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