Senate J-1 Hears Testimony on Medical Lawsuit Reform

The Senate J-1 Committee has just completed its second meeting on Senate Bill 33 which addresses medical lawsuit reform. This meeting consisted of short statements from opponents and supporters of the proposal. Opponents were most vocal about the section addressing liability in medical emergencies, and the cap on non-economic damages. Supporters of the bill spoke about the expected benefits of reform, and addressed each section of the bill.

Most notable among the opponents was Joe Knott, former Republican candidate for NC Attorney General. He began by emphasizing that he teaches the bible and is a conservative person. He went on to declare the medical lawsuit reform proposal “un-American” and “immoral.” Among the supporters of SB 33 was Sammy Thompson, a medical malpractice defense lawyer with the Smith Anderson law firm in Raleigh. Mr. Thompson, representing the NC Medical Society,  went through the bill systematically and explained  the fundamental problems the bill seeks to address and the expected benefits of each section. Also among supporters was Lew Ebert, CEO of the NC Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Ebert discussed the burden of our litigation system on small business, and the need for SB 33 to stimulate job growth and improve the economic environment in North Carolina. Two physician spoke in favor of the bill. Dr. Greg Cannon, an Emergency Physician from Wake County talked about the dynamics of emergency care from a physician’s perspective and explained the need to address the excessive liability risks associated with medical emergencies. Dr. Don Bradley, medical director for BCBSNC, emphasized the beneficial effect the proposal would have on defensive medicine costs.

The next meeting is expected to be held on Tuesday of next week.


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