Issue: Tort Reform
Proposed legislation would usurp authority traditionally vested with states.
State court leaders oppose legislation that usurps state court authority.
On 01/06/09, six U.S. Senators introduced the Medical Care Access Protection Act of 2009 (S. 45) to “improve patient access to health care services … by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system.” Significantly the bill seeks to regulate “health care lawsuits” in state and federal courts. By way of example, the bill would require state courts to impose a Federal Civil Rule 11 sanction on attorneys in certain circumstances; regulate the calculation of compensatory and punitive damages; dictate the content of certain jury instructions; define the minimum qualifications of expert witnesses; define the standard of proof for punitive damages; and create a federal preemption of state lawsuits involving certain kinds of drugs and medical devices.
The 111th Congress is not likely to act on “tort reform” bills.