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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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The Tragic Victims Of Tort Reform

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There is a voice trying to counter the anti-civil justice media barrage. It may be an uphill fight, but Cyrus Dugger is serious about the effort.

Here is the blog and the story:


Each week I will highlight the case of an injured person who was (or likely will be) denied full justice because of changes made to state law by the national anti-civil justice movement (aka the “tort reform” movement).

Unknown to most Americans, their right and their ability to access the courts are under assault from what is truly a mass movement by business interests to shield themselves from liability for their misconduct.

This “tort reform” movement frames its agenda as reasonable reform geared to protect corporations from what they describe as frivolous lawsuits which drive up the cost of business, and ostensibly hurt the state’s economy.

This constant media barrage of outrageous lawsuits has shaped the public opinion against the very civil justice system which protects us.

As a response to this anti-civil justice media barrage, each week I will highlight the other side of this coin: the real victims who are left without access to full justice because of the effects of the laws pushed through the state legislatures by the anti-civil justice movement.

This first week begins with the case of Christian Stratton.

“On September 19, 2005 Christian Stratton, a 5 month old bubbly baby boy, awoke at 6:00 AM to his mother’s loving smile. Just 12 hours later at 6:00 PM, Christian was strapped to a gurney in a helicopter, comatose, with a breathing tube, being life-flighted to a local high-level hospital for children. He was brain-dead. Two days later he died 20 minutes after life-support was withdrawn.

That morning Christian fell and injured his neck. An emergency room (ER) doctor missed his neck injury, and, as result, Christian died 2 days later. Under new Georgia tort reform laws, it may be difficult for Christian’s parents to hold the ER doctor accountable for Christian’s death.

New Georgia tort reform laws require victims of emergency room negligence to prove “gross negligence” by a “clear and convincing” degree,, instead of proving “negligence” by a “preponderance of the evidence” as is the case in all other cases of medical malpractice – a much lower requirement. Doctors at the emergency room where Christian was examined after his fall failed to “clear” his cervical spine. That failure to diagnose the cervical injury caused his death.”

The “gross negligence” and “clear and convincing” requirement for victims of ER negligence is a much higher burden of proof than required for other victims of medical negligence. This ER gross negligence requirement risks creating a lower quality of health care due to ER doctors not having to meet the same standards as other doctors. The practical consequence of the new law is that in Georgia practically all ER doctors can commit negligence resulting in death and catastrophic injury without any accountability to their victims or their families – Georgia law, to the financial benefit of doctors and insurance companies, may prevent his parents from getting any degree of accountability for their baby’s tragic and preventable death.”