Today's Health Care Check-Up: - October 13, 2000
A Cap on Damages in Norwood-Ashcroft-McCain?
Supporters of the Norwood-Ashcroft-McCain bill claim there is a cap on
damages in this newest version of the patients’ bill of rights. But the
fact is this so-called cap is really not a cap at all. Punitive
damages may be capped in federal court, but employers would still be
subject to unlimited damage awards in at least 5 other ways:
- $5 million limit on punitive damages in federal court.
- Unlimited economic damages in federal court.
- Unlimited non-economic damages in federal court.
- Unlimited punitive damages in state court.
- Unlimited economic damages in state court.
- Unlimited non-economic damages in state court.
- There would be unlimited opportunities for
class-action lawsuits to be filed against employers under both state
and federal laws.
The Norwood-Ashcroft-McCain bill still does not protect employers from
being hauled into court for providing health coverage to their employees.
And it still does not effectively protect employers from ruinous unlimited
lawsuits. In fact, the $5 million cap on punitive damages in federal court
offers little comfort to the average small business owner who earns
$40,000 a year and could still go bankrupt at the hands of trial lawyers.
A Patients’ Bill of Rights Shouldn’t Be a Lawyers’ Right