sartan0: (Concerned)
[personal profile] sartan0
If you don't live in Washington state the following might not be of intrest. For those who do live here-

I wanted to point you guys to the local bar's reaction to I-330 and I-336. I think there should be some reform including a cap but not the kind called for by the very insurance friendly initiative 330. Requiring that patients sign away their right to a jury trial as a condition of receiving treatment from a healthcare provider is asinine. Not to mention it might get thrown out anyway. Allowing insurance companies to pay judgments for future economic loss in excess of $50,000 over 20 or 30 years is could be very unfair to certain injured people. Any iron clad repayment scheme stinks to me. Frankly I don't think that I-336 does much of anything worth voting yes on. I would vote no on both.

To: Members of the Washington State Bar Association

From: WSBA Board of Governors

Re: Initiative 330 and Initiative 336

Date: September 28, 2005

You have no doubt begun to see or hear the television and radio ads of those supporting I-330 and opposing I-336. Many of those ads attack lawyers and the legal profession. As those attacks become increasingly virulent, we wanted you to hear directly from us about the WSBA Board of Governors' position on the initiatives.

The WSBA Board of Governors OPPOSES I-330 and takes NO POSITION on I-336.

The bulk of I-336 deals with medical malpractice insurance, medical licensure, and doctors' duty of disclosure to patients. While it also includes a provision affecting the duty of plaintiffs filing medical malpractice claims, the Board of Governors determined that I-336 does not have a substantial effect on the practice of law or the administration of justice. The Board of Governors therefore voted to take no position on this initiative.

Unlike I-336, the Board of Governors concluded that this initiative does have a significant impact on the practice of law and the administration of justice, and voted to oppose it.

Our Constitution establishes the fundamental rights of all citizens. Some of those rights are impacted by the sweeping revisions contained in I-330. Some of the impacts are:

* Requiring that patients sign away their right to a jury trial as a condition of receiving treatment from a healthcare provider.
* Imposing a cap of $350,000 on non-economic damages.
* Allowing insurance companies to pay judgments for future economic loss in excess of $50,000 over 20 or 30 years, with the future periodic payments to cease upon the death of the plaintiff.

Initiative 330 affects everyone's constitutional rights for recovery from injury; read what it actually says.

Washington State's Insurance Commissioner is elected to protect the public's interest concerning insurance. In his testimony on one of several pieces of legislation affecting medical malpractice, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler had this to say:

"This kind of public policy should be developed through the 'give and take' of the legislative process - not as one-sided approaches put together behind closed doors by advocates on either extreme."

Commissioner Kreidler repeated that message in his testimony before the WSBA Board of Governors in June. The WSBA Board of Governors agrees and believes that this issue belongs in the Legislature, not at the ballot box. The issue is too complex for the initiative process and the Legislature should develop the policy in this area.

What you can do
As lawyers we can educate our friends, families, neighbors, and community groups about the constitutional issues implicated by I-330. Though the mean-spirited images of lawyers you will see will be infuriating, media experts teach us that denial or defensive responses only inflame the discussion further and are ineffective. The WSBA will concentrate on calling attention to what I-330 actually says and on promoting the good that lawyers do.

Here is additional information you may find useful:

Text of I-330:
Text of I-336:
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