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FL Lawyers Figure Way Around Med Mal Cap Amendment; Doctors Protest

"Please sign here to waive your constitutional rights." That's what some attorneys in Florida have been asking prospective clients ever since November, when 63% of...
August 2, 2005

"Please sign here to waive your constitutional rights." That's what some attorneys in Florida have been asking prospective clients ever since November, when 63% of the state's voters amended the state's constitution to severely limit the amount of money a plaintiff's attorney can earn in a medical malpractice case.

Now the Palm Beach Post reports that a group of doctor-friendly attorneys is protesting this tactic and has petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to put a stop to it.

Plaintiff's attorneys claim that if they cannot potentially take home a payday greater than that afforded by the new constitutional amendment, patients will suffer. They say the new limits do not provide enough money to cover the huge investments that are required to prove a medical malpractice case, and that as a result lawyers will not be able to take such cases on a contingent basis. This would make the medical malpractice system inaccessible to all but the richest Floridians.

They also point out that Americans waive their constitutional rights every day, for example when they waive their right to a trial by jury or waive their right against self-incrimination.

Defenders of the amendment claim that these defenses ring hollow and that lawyers just don't want to give up their large fees for medical malpractice victories.

"When defendants waive their constitutional rights, it's to benefit themselves," said Lisette Gonzalez Mariner of the Florida Medical Association. "This is to benefit their attorney."

Doctors Ask Court to Uphold Limits on Lawyer's Fees (Palm Beach Post 7/24/05)

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