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House gives initial approval to bill that limits personal injury awards

February 26, 2003
By: Matt Talhelm
State Capital Bureau

After nearly a month of committee hearings and across-the-aisle exchanges, the House gave preliminary approval to a bill that would limit medical malpractice awards.

Matt Talhelm (TALL-helm) explains.

The bill puts a three-hundred-fifty thousand dollar cap on pain and suffering damages that juries can award patients.

It also limits attorney fees and requires greater proof of intentional wrong-doing by medical professionals.

While Republican supporters say the bill will help bring doctors driven out by high insurance costs back to the state. But St. Louis City Democrat Connie LaJoyce Johnson say the reforms aren't enough.

Actuality: tortref.wav
RunTime: 15
OutCue: "...insurance industry."
Contents: "It's not real tort reform. It's window dressing. I mean, I do think in fairness there are a couple of areas where some progress was made, but we're going to be right back here next year, because there's nothing in that bill that's going to change the practices of the insurance industry."

Opponents of the bill failed to hold the bill in the House for further discussion on insurance costs. The House will take a final vote on the bill before passing it to the Senate. From Jefferson City, I'm Matt Talhelm for KMOX News.


The House gave its preliminary approval to a bill that would limit damages awarded in medical malpractice cases.

Matt Talhelm reports.

After a day of debates, the House gave initial approval to the bill which caps pain and suffering damages at three-hundred-fifty thousand dollars.

The bill also limits attorney fees and requires all malpractice cases to go into mediation first.

Supporters blame increasing lawyer fees and the number of lawsuits for high insurance costs.

But St. Louis City Democrat Connie LaJoyce Johnson says the bill may not impact the insurance costs , costs she says are driving doctors out of Missouri.

Actuality:
RunTime: :15
OutCue: "addresses that issue."
Contents: "When you have doctors who are leaving the state not necessarily because of high jury verdicts, but because the insurance industry is able to double and triple premiums for these doctors and they're no able longer to practice in their specialty, and there's nothing in that bill that addresses that issue."

Several lawmakers fought against the bill, saying the caps limit liability and hurt victims of malpractice. In Jefferson City, I'm Matt Talhelm for Missouri Capitol Caucus.