According to a New York Times article published this month, Congressional Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia, who is sponsoring a bill seeking to place caps on malpractice lawsuits, was involved in a $500,000 settlement in a malpractice lawsuit brought against him and several other doctors in 2007. Before being elected to Congress, Gingrey had worked as an obstetrician for thirty years. The Congressional bill sponsored by Gingery is poised to significantly cut medical malpractice awards by limiting damages for pain and suffering in malpractice cases to $250,000.
Although the case against Gingrey and the other doctors named in the lawsuit reached a settlement, details of the case allege that Gingrey and the other obstetricians at the practice had failed to properly diagnose a woman' appendicitis. According to the original lawsuit filed against the doctor, the pregnant woman alleged that inappropriate care caused the loss of her fetus. Court papers show that the woman' appendix eventually burst leading to the loss of her fetus and other health complications, including a stroke. Chicago medical malpractice lawyers have represented clients in similar cases and reached settlements for a comparable dollar amount.
According to a pretrial deposition given by Gingrey, he had been sued at least three other times over malpractice during his career. A jury found against him in one case; in another case there was a settlement; and in another case, the patient dropped the lawsuit.
In addition to placing a cap on damages for pain and suffering, this bill is also aiming to restrict fees paid to lawyers representing patients and to create alternative means to lawsuits for resolving medical disputes such as mediation. The bill would also ban awarding punitive damages in cases brought against the manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and other products that are approved, cleared, or licensed for sale by the FDA.
Congressman Gingrey' bill has gained support from several medical groups, including the American Medical Association. Opponents of the bill include the American Association for Justice and various other patients' rights groups.