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'Reform' of tort law has a cost

October 04, 2009

Re: Michael Hiltzik's business column "Why tort reform is a frivolous diversion," Oct. 1:

Michael Hiltzik is to be congratulated for exposing the ulterior motives behind "tort reform." He appropriately points to the fact that the draconian reduction of compensation to the victims of medical negligence under California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) failed to produce significant reductions of either physician malpractice insurance premiums or the cost of medical care.

A lesser-known feature of MICRA is its adverse impact on employers' workers' compensation costs. As an attorney, I represented employees in two cases where medical negligence involving infections acquired during surgeries turned relatively minor injuries into catastrophic injuries. In each case, medical negligence increased workers' compensation liability from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars. Yet under MICRA, the employers had no right to be reimbursed by the medical providers for the loss occasioned by medical negligence.

Ernest A. Canning

Thousand Oaks

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