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Health court model is unconstitutional, denying victims of medical malpractice the right to a jury trial

In Senate hearings last week, legislators considered a senate bill that would test different proposals to reduce medical malpractice insurance costs. One of the proposals, the Health Court Model, meets strong opposition from the American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) because the model denies those injured by a hospital’s negligence their access to the court system, constitutional due process rights and right to a jury trial.

Among many concerns, the Health Court model would be an administrative nightmare – a bureaucratic process run by political appointees charged with the impossible task of formulating a uniform system of compensation for victims of medical malpractice. Given the uniqueness of each individual citizen, their potential injuries from malpractice and their personal and family lives, this system would under compensate many victims and their loved ones who are victims of irreparable harm due to a hospital’s negligence.

In addition, those appointed to sit on health courts would not be unbiased jurors or judges, but rather self interested politically appointed individuals susceptible to influence by lobbying from special interest groups including insurance companies and health industry representatives – those groups who stand to benefit the most from the proposed reform.

The Health Court Model is also strongly opposed by former victims of medical malpractice and consumer groups, who have both issued strong statements in opposition of the model which can be found here:

Medical Malpractice Victims Letter
Consumer Groups Letter

In addition, the Center for Justice and Democracy has issued a working paper entitled “Why Health Courts are Unconstitutional,” which can be accessed here.

To view the press release.