Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis signed a bill intended to ease a medical malpractice insurance crisis. Dukakis called the new law "a critical first step" in ensuring quality medical care in the state. The law puts a cap of $500,000 on damages for the pain and suffering of malpractice victims. It also limits the amount that lawyers can charge for defending or filing malpractice suits and allows doctors to pass on to patients a portion of huge retroactive insurance premium increases, which had sparked the crisis.