Swansea malpractice lawyer says 'caps' decision was predictable; ICJL calls it 'disappointing'

Ann Knef Feb. 4, 2010, 6:58am


One of the most successful medical malpractice attorneys in the region, Tom Keefe of Swansea, said today's Illinois Supreme Court decision was not unexpected.

"Many of my good friends in the medical community predicted this result," Keefe said.

The Court overturned a 2005 law that capped non-economic damages -- such as pain and suffering -- for physicians at $500,000 and hospitals at $1 million.

"But, I would like to assure the many outstanding doctors, nurses and health care professionals that the Court's decision today does not spell doom and gloom," Keefe said. "The number of malpractice filings are way down; not because of the 'caps, but because in the vast majority of cases health care is excellent."

Illinois Civil Justice League President Ed Murnane, however, sees things differently.

"This is very disappointing – and frustrating," Murnane said in a statement. "Republicans and Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly passed this law in 2005 after carefully considering all the potential and likely issues that could lead to a challenge.

"They knew it would be challenged and some very brilliant legal minds were involved in the drafting of the legislation and the defense of the law before the Supreme Court."

Murnane went on to express disappointment that the Court sided with trial lawyers.

"It is very unfortunate that an issue that has an impact on the quality of health care for Illinois citizens can be decided by the Supreme Court choosing between doctors and patients on one side, and trial lawyers on the other — and siding once again with the trial lawyers."

Keefe credits juries with being able to make wise determinations in medical negligence cases.

"The opinion today simply restores the power to make decisions about the merits of all cases, whether a slip and fall, an auto accident, a dispute between two corporations, or even a medical malpractice case, to the people envisioned by our founding fathers to have that power, a jury of 12, the conscience of the community," Keefe said.

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