HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY

 

 

March 11, 2003   Hearing Room 357

1:00 p.m.    Tapes 76-77

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Max Williams, Chair

Rep. Gordon Anderson, Vice-Chair

Rep. Robert Ackerman, Vice-Chair

Rep. Jeff Barker

Rep. Bob Jenson

Rep. Jerry Krummel

Rep. Greg Macpherson

Rep. Floyd Prozanski

Rep. Lane Shetterly

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Bill Joseph, Counsel

Ann Martin, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURE/ISSUES HEARD:            Informational Meeting: Medical Liability/

                                                Tort Reform-Opposing Views

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

Tape 76, A

004

Chair Williams

Opens the meeting at 1:12 p.m.

Introduction and Malpractice Experiences

016

Chair Williams

Introduces first panel: Mic Alexander, Kathy and Jerry Brooks, and Jessica Howard.

024

Mic Alexander

Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. Testifies on tort reform.

038

Kathy Brooks

Victim of malpractice, mother of Jerry Brooks. Submits testimony and testifies on tort reform (EXHIBIT A).

132

Jessica Howard

Victim of malpractice. Submits testimony and testifies on tort reform (EXHIBIT B).

190

Rep. Krummel

Asks Ms. Howard what kind of consent she gave her doctor.

197

Howard

Answers, that she did not give them consent and explains her experience.

What did Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act ( MICRA) do for California

216

Chair Williams

Introduces Harvey Rosenfield.

225

Harvey Rosenfield

President, Foundation for Taypayer & Consumer Rights. Submits testimony and testifies on tort reform (EXHIBITS C-E).

380

Rosenfield

Continues his discussion on tort reform.

 

TAPE 77, A

003

Rosenfield

Continues his testimony in opposition to tort reform.

067

Rep. Krummel

Asks Mr. Rosenfield to explain California Medical Malpractice Premiums graph.

074

Rosenfield

Explains graphs and discusses Proposition 103.

099

Rep. Krummel

Asks Mr. Rosenfield about his comment on insurance companies being non-exempt from anti-trust laws and how that will affect premiums.

105

Rosenfield

Answers that there are two anti-trust exemptions that are applicable, and explains.

130

Rep. Krummel

Inquires about the medical community and antitrust laws.

146

Rosenfield

Says that he doesn’t see the medical community as exempt from antitrust laws, but does see the government regulating the doctors.

155

Rep. Macpherson

Asks questions about premium chart.

166

Rosenfield

Says that the chart reflects pure premiums taken in by the insurance companies.

189

Vice-Chair Anderson

Inquires about caps placed on attorneys.

198

Rosenfield

Cites statistics from his testimony dated February 2003, on page 31 (Exhibit C).

218

Vice-Chair Anderson

Asks where expenses for a case come from.

221

Rosenfield

States that the expenses come from what the victim gets. Stresses that the expenses come out of the plaintiff’s pocket, and explains.

268

Chair Williams

Asks if Mr. Rosenfield has reviewed Oregon’s malpractice insurance rates.

275

Rosenfield

Answers, no he has not; he is not an actuary, but that he would be very interested in seeing those figures.

291

Rep. Jenson

Asks if he knows how the insurance companies invest their money.

304

Rosenfield

Reports that they did a national study and concluded that there were millions of dollars invested in Enron and WorldCom. Says that he does not know about the companies in Oregon.

Medical Malpractice Experiences

333

Chair Williams

Introduces Steve Brown.

342

Steve Brown

Victim of medical malpractice. Submits testimony and testifies in opposition to tort reform (EXHIBIT F).

Tape 76, B

002

Brown

Continues his testimony on his experience with medical malpractice.

059

Tempest Heston

Victim of medical malpractice. Mother of Mikayla Heston. Testifies on tort reform.

Myths, Facts and Solutions, the Impact on the State of Oregon

171

Mic Alexander

Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. Concludes his testimony in opposition to tort reform.

 

TAPE 77, B

002

Alexander

Continues his testimony in opposition to tort reform.

023

Rep. Krummel

Asks Mr. Alexander how much he would receive if he was his client and was awarded $5 million.

029

Alexander

Says if they went to trial then the fees would be one-third, the out-of-pocket costs would be $50,000 to $100,000, and there might be liens that would need to be paid off (EXHIBIT G).

042

Rep. Krummel

Asks if he might receive around 3 million dollars.

045

Alexander

Answers, yes that is probably about right.

054

Rep. Krummel

Asks what Mr. Alexander thinks about forming a professional liability fund (PLF). Asks if the costs per physician would be $5,000.

059

Alexander

Replies that he doesn’t know if it would cost that much. Says that he thinks the cost would be more than that.

075

Rep. Krummel

Asks if they should set a cap on attorney’s fees.

089

Alexander

Answers, no. Explains why.

122

Rep. Krummel

Asks what would happen if they restrict defense fees also.

124

Alexander

States that he would be very interested to see that legislation come forward.

137

Rep. Macpherson

Asks for his comment on a PLF system and how that could affect the medical field.

149

Alexander

Responds that the tort system would identify incompetent doctors. Explains his opinion on the PLF.

192

Vice-Chair Anderson

Says that he sees a parallel, but not a very good parallel between limiting attorney’s fees and doctor’s liability insurance. Wonders how he sees the PLF solving this problem.

213

Alexander

Answers that he doesn’t know if the PLF will be an ultimate solution, but says that he does know that it will protect the medical specialists.

266

Vice-Chair Anderson

Asks Mr. Alexander how he is willing to compromise.

254

Alexander

Says that he will accept a fair solution. Discusses the tort reform bills and says that all of the bills deny access and increase litigation costs. Feels that none of the bills are constructive to the judicial system.

307

Vice-Chair Anderson

Points out that the legislature will make the decision on this issue, not the lawyers.

314

Alexander

Replies that he knows that and simply wants to find something that works.

320

Rep. Shetterly

Asks Mr. Alexander about securities.

342

Alexander

Answers that he thinks there is something for securities.

344

Chair Williams

Comments that Counsel Joseph will check on the PLF and securities.

355

Vice-Chair Ackerman

Asks Mr. Alexander what his reaction would be to fund a task force in hopes of finding a middle ground.

371

Alexander

Answers that he thinks it would be helpful. Adds that there are no solutions that will give immediate relief.

393

Rep. Prozanski

Asks Mr. Alexander how much payouts for an attorney are.

404

Alexander

States that the standard is 30-40 percent.

407

Rep. Prozanski

Asks if a lawyer’s costs of doing the preparation for a trial and they are not successful then who pays that cost of $50,000 to $100,000.

428

Alexander

Answers that normally he would absorb those costs and that it would be an out-of-pocket loss.

451

Chair Williams

Adjourns the meeting at 3:00 p.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

A – Written testimony, submitted by Kathy Brooks, 1 pg.

B – Written testimony, submitted by Jessica Howard, 1 pg.

C - Testimony of Harvey Rosenfield, 34 pgs.

D – Report, How Insurance Reform Lowered Doctors’ Medical Malpractice Rates in California, submitted by Harvey Rosenfield, 9 pgs.

E – News Releases, from California Department of Justice, submitted by Harvey Rosenfield, 6 pgs.

F – Written testimony, submitted by Steve Brown, 1 pg.

G – Notice of Lien, from Oregon Department of Human Services, submitted by Mic Alexander, 1 pg.