Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tort Reform: Does Gov. Barbour really want to bring this up again?

Some of you may be aware of Gov. Barbour's latest attempt to scare the populous into thinking trial lawyers are baby-eating devils. If not, here's a synopsis: The Mississippi Supreme Court recently held that pre-suit notice is required under the Tort Claims Act, but that the time period for that notice is tolled by the filing of suit. The suit will be dismissed of course for failure to give notice, but you can still go back and give that pre-suit notice.

Now, having practiced in the civil arena before, I can assure you that pre-suit notice, in reality, does nothing more to help settle a case than the filing of a complaint does. It's just a trap to ensnare unwary citizens and keep them from getting justice when they are harmed by a state actor. Period.

But if Gov. Barbour wants to bring up tort reform, I say go ahead. Now that some time has passed since the passage of tort reform legislation, let's look back at some numbers provided by none other than the American Medical Association itself.

Here are the number of physicians in Mississippi by year from 1998 through 2007:

1998 - 5,133
1999 - 5,232
2000 - 5,399
2001 - 5,544
2002 - 5,680
2003 - 5,820
2004 - 5,872
2005 - 5,872
2006 - 5,890
2007 - 5,961

Anyone notice anything odd? For all the hue and cry from tort reform proponents about doctors leaving Mississippi and the health care crisis that would ensue, we had growth in the number of physicians in Mississippi during the 6 years leading up to tort reform, and in fact, we have had less growth since tort reform.

And anecdotal evidence suggests that insurance rates for physicians haven't declined as promised, either. Oh, and the number of entities writing med mal policies hasn't gone up, either.


Anderson said...

Your synopsis seems to omit what Barbour has to do with the MSSC's decision.

Anderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

Barbour filed a brief asking the MSSC to reconsider its opinion.

Jim Craig said...

Was the Governor a party in the case? Or is he moving to intervene and also moving for rehearing?

Matt Eichelberger said...

Anderson, I you are correct. Here's the tie-in, from Tuesday's Clarion-Ledger:

Patrick said...

From the docket it looks like Barbour & the MS Medical Assn moved to file amicus briefs in support of the hospital's motion for rehearing.

Wedded Bliss said...

All tort reform has done is put lawyers out of work. And that has to stop NOW!

Pander Bear said...

I was told by an economist from Clemson that in states where enough time has passed to gauge the effects of tort reform, cases have actually increased in number.

He attributed it to insurance companies spending less on the defense, and the cases becoming less costly to fight.