Senate Judiciary 1 Committee Hears Testimony on Medical Lawsuit Reform

The Senate Judiciary 1 Committee held its second meeting Thursday on Senate Bill 33, which addresses medical lawsuit reform. The meeting consisted of short statements from opponents and supporters, with opponents 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. Emphasizing that he teaches the Bible and is a conservative, Knott labeled 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 physicians spoke in favor of the bill. Greg Cannon, MD, 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. Don Bradley, MD, medical director for BCBSNC, emphasized the beneficial effect the proposal would have on defensive medicine costs.

The Committee is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, February 24, 2011.  Sen. Pete Brunstetter (R, Forsyth), Chairman of Senate Judiciary 1, announced that Senators will have a chance to question those professionals that represent interested groups at the next meeting.  The NCMS will be ready to address concerns that have been brought to our attention over the past week.  A recommendation vote is possible next Tuesday.

Click here for talking points on SB 33 Medical Liability Reforms.

To follow the progress of the bill, click here.


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1 Comment

  • The high cost of medical liability insurance was the major factor in my decision to retire after 35 years of small town general surgical practice (N.Wilkesboro).If I could have slowed down a little and still paid the premium, I would have liked to have continued a few more years.My situation,by the way, is not uncommon.