Eleven Out of Ten Doctors Agree: Perry’s Shaky Math on Tort Reform

With Rick Perry taking the lead in the Republican primary, tort reform is expected to be, again, a major campaign issue. I have long been a critic of efforts to cap damages and I have seen firsthand how these caps often lead to families being unable to secure counsel in fights with big companies. Now, Perry is claiming that his “reforms” have led to 21,000 more doctors coming to Texas. The article below shows how this claim is entirely unsupported.

At the Politics and Eggs Breakfast in Bedford, N.H., on Aug. 17, 2011, Perry claimed huge success in malpractice limits: “I’ll tell you what one of the results was. This last year, 21,000 more physicians practicing medicine in Texas because they know they can do what they love and not be sued. Some 30 counties that didn’t have an emergency room doc have one today. Counties along the Rio Grande, where women were having to travel for miles and miles outside of the county to see an ob-gyn, for prenatal care and now they have that care.”

However, the actual increase was 12,788. Moreover, the biggest drivers appears population growth: “From 2002 to 2010, the population of Texas grew by 20 percent. At the same time, the number of doctors went up 24 percent.”

The bar needs to be more proactive in dealing with the costs of limits on malpractice and other types of recovery. I once helped a student who was seeking an attorney to sue a trucking company in Kansas for a horrific accident where his fiance was killed. No attorney would touch it due to caps on recovery. It would simply be too expensive to litigate as a contingency case. The result is that families are forced to accept a couple hundred thousand dollars for the death of their loved one. It makes such people a relatively cheap cost of doing business.

As we saw in the Virginia Tech case, the university was clearly and grossly negligent. Yet, those families were limited to $100,000 each in a ridiculous cap on damages. Not only did the university avoid the full damages for its negligence, it has used the tragedy to raise a great deal of money. I continue to get calls incessantly on my phone by fundraisers from the university despite asking them to stop calling.

It is time to have a full and accurate debate on this issue, but it is not going to happen with bar groups remaining timid and passive.

Jonathan Turley

Source: Politifact

92 thoughts on “Eleven Out of Ten Doctors Agree: Perry’s Shaky Math on Tort Reform”

  1. I’m guessing that it’s been said here before… but, as a lawyer friend often says, “Everyone hates lawyers until they need one.”
    There are some things in the law that make Lawyers mandatory, that said, my guess is that very much like Doctors, people don’t ‘hate’ them until there is an experience that gives them reason. I don’t think there would be so many jokes about Dr.s or Lawyers if there wasn’t some truth in there somewhere. And I think the Legal proffession owes it to itself to take itself and the critiques a tad more seriously….

  2. I’m guessing that it’s been said here before… but, as a lawyer friend often says, “Everyone hates lawyers until they need one.”

  3. Noway:

    Physicians don’t care much for lawyers.


    Funny, they always seem to hire them for all of their business, financial, legal, and malpractice defense needs.

    You obviously know nothing about lawyer discipline which enforces a much higher ethical standard than any other profession, including our stethoscoped clad friends.

    I also enjoyed your praise for your lawyer. As we all know, whomever you associate with is good; everyone else in the profession — bad.

  4. Oh Testy are we NoWay, Then you have proved eniobobs point…Son, you are all hat….

    Not much into pills….I did like a good drink though….

  5. AY,

    To satisfy your curiosity:

    Both my doctor and my dentist are personal friends. They are among the group with whom I socialize. The same can be said of my attorney, and my auto mechanic. I have a lot of respect for all of them.

    If have never “stiffed” my attorney, or anyone else for that matter. I have never reported my attorney to the Bar, or had any reason to do so.

    You, my little elfish friend, are looking for an excuse to be dismissive. Go back to your bottle or pill and enjoy the rest of your day.

    I will agree with you about many lawyers who practice family law, especially those in solo or small firms. I am all too familiar with what they have to put up with.

  6. anon,

    Most people don’t care for Doc or Dentists….But they are there when you need them, right? So, what is your interest in jacking attorneys around….If you don’t like em…simply put…don’t use them…ever done a root canal by yourself…its readily apparent you are familiar with the self lobotomy kit sold exclusively at costco…

    You are not forced to used auto mechanics either…Ever used one and them complained about the cost…

    How about symbolically….ever had home foundation problems….main sewer line to the street have problems…

    I think family lawyers for the grief that they get never get adequately paid…not only are you upset with your attorney, I bet you are the type that stiffed them and filed a complaint with the state bar…


  7. @mespo727272

    “No physician wants a hack out there harming patients.”


    ” Our professions are compatible not antagonistic”

    Physicians don’t care much for lawyers.

    I wish lawyers would hold themselves to the same standards that they impose upon physicians. When a physician makes a mistake, and it harms the patient, the lawyers want the physician to pay. When a lawyer makes a mistake, and it harms the client, it’s usually dismissed.

    What should be the penalty when a lawyer fails to properly preserve something for appeal? The client is harmed. Maybe both financially and mentally.

    Do you think the physician should be held to a higher standard?

    Lawyers play in an arena that has the luxury of do-overs. New trials, appeals, reconsideration; must be nice. Your mistakes aren’t visible, but many times they are just as harmful.

    Have you ever failed to object? Failed to preserve something for appeal? Did you get sued for that harm…caused by your imperfection? Negligence? Incompetence?

    People make mistakes. Even the best, most competent, in any profession, makes mistakes. Most of those mistakes are the result of negligence; just as most accidents are the result of negligence. Sometimes it’s a judgment call. Sometimes that call is wrong, and if they had the luxury of a do-over, they would not make the same call the second time…sometimes they would.

    Here’s an example of the PASS given to members of your profession.

    I suggest you spend some time cleaning up your own backyard.

  8. Maybe the same fate can meet Perry and his teaparty followers……

    New Hampshire Republicans Say They Have The Votes To Oust Embattled State Chairman

    WASHINGTON — The chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Tea Party leader Jack Kimball, will be notified Thursday that members of the party’s executive committee will vote on whether to remove him at a Sept. 1 meeting, sources in the state told The Huffington Post.

    They delivered that message to Kimball through the state House Speaker Bill O’Brien, who is himself aligned with Tea Party groups in the state and echoed the call to step down.


  9. I have done my best to ignore Perry but after the last legislative session it has become difficult to ignore him. He has tea party support, and they will be out in full force in the republican primaries.

  10. Well eniobob,

    I’ll leave that to SWmom….I am sure she has a much better understanding of the man….

    My opinion is he seems to be a likable frat boy….maybe something happened to his in the Greek System..that he has never fully recovered from…I do know that he has a lot of big oil money behind him and to have John Bolton and his connections could not hurt either…

  11. Swarthmore mom:

    “He does emit the “can-do-ness” to me as he has passed bundles of bad legislation including the sonogram bill this year.”:=)


    What do you think that hat size would be? LOL!!

Comments are closed.