Blasting Caps in North Carolina

Blasting Caps in North Carolina

NC House:  $500,000 caps on MedMal Noneconomic Damages

Continuing a trend across the country, the North Carolina House voted to override Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto of legislation that caps medical malpractice noneconomic damages at $500,000 for medical malpractice cases.

This North Carolina change tracks with similar tort reform efforts and court decisions recently occurring in Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states from coast to coast.

Expect this trend to continue.

Not surprisingly, different interests line up on different sides of this debate:

Insurance Industry:  Argues tort reform and caps are necessary to help keep premiums affordable.

Legislatures:  Argue tort reform is necessary to attract businesses who would otherwise flee states with “unfriendly” business climates.

Plaintiff Attorneys:  Argue caps artificially limit an aggrieved plaintiff’s ability to receive fair compensation and give some defendants a “free pass” since they can make business decisions favorable to their bottom line without regard to the public’s well being.

Although the DePuy Hip Recall is primarily a products liability exposure for parent company Johnson & Johnson, it’s reasonable to assume that any successful tort reform efforts will ultimately inure to the benefit of the defendant in this litigation and similar mass torts.

The hit HBO documentary Hot Coffee takes the subject of tort reform head-on.

In addition to showing how tort reformers manipulated the “jackpot justice” theme that emerged from the infamous McDonald’s coffee lawsuit, one of the segments in the film provides evidence that confutes the insurance industry argument that tort reform lowers premiums.

Whichever side of the debate you come down on, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see this capping trend continue until/unless enough money gets on the other side of the argument.

 

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