I try not to get into the automatic bashing of "trial lawyers" (which is really a code phrase for plaintiff's lawyers, as trials necessarily require lawyers on both sides), but a new Florida law seems to me to be a really bad idea, prompted by plaintiff's lawyers seeking extra leverage against doctors:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida voters this month approved a three-strikes law unlike any other state's — a measure aimed not at killers and thieves but at doctors who foul up.
The newly approved amendment to the Florida Constitution would automatically revoke the medical license of any doctor hit with three malpractice judgments. The law is backed by doctors' foremost antagonists — lawyers — and the ramifications could be huge.
True, the amendment speaks of three judgments, not three lawsuits, presumably a relatively high threshold, considering that most civil lawsuits are settled before trial. Still, this provides a little extra weight on the plaintiff's side. It's also likely to have significant impact on medical insurance, as an expected outcome will be more med mal lawsuits. That in turn may drive more doctors out of the state.
What I find particularly disturbing about this amendment is the support by lawyers. How would the Florida lawyers who backed this amendment feel about another amendment, one that automatically revokes the law licenses of any attorney hit with three legal malpractice
lawsuits judgments? Or any criminal defense attorney hit with three instances of ineffective assistance of counsel resulting in the release or new trial of a convicted defendant? Presumably, they wouldn't be so eager to support that kind of three strike law. . . .
Medical malpractice is a tough issue. Obviously, I don't think that doctors should be immunized from their mistakes; but on the other hand, we have to be sensitive to the fact that there may be unfounded lawsuits, whose cost is ultimately imposed on all of us. A heavy-handed solution such as Florida's will probably do little to address the mistakes and will probably have significant unintended consequences.