Archive | Advertise | December 2011

What You Need to Know Before the 2012 Legislative Session

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Dear GTLA Members,

If you have ever wondered about the need to engage your legislators, recent developments should remove any doubt.  Neighboring states in 2011 passed draconian tort reform packages, including caps on noneconomic damages in all cases (Tennessee), medical malpractice caps (North Carolina), and substantial restrictions in both Florida and Alabama.  Here, we’ve heard rumblings of threats to the worker’s compensation system.  Recent developments have the auto insurance industry up in arms and determined to come after us this session. And there will be the usual smorgasbord of immunity-for-this and immunity-for-that proposals.

If that’s not enough, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Kyle Wingfield recently penned an editorial touting a proposal to change the way medical malpractice cases are handled. The proposal comes from a guy named Richard Jackson who has made a ton of money in the healthcare provider staffing business and has formed a wonderfully named organization called "Patients for Fair Compensation." They propose to replace the jury system with a "workers’-compensation-like system" for administering claims of medical malpractice. The impetus behind their proposal, they claim, is that doctors are forced to engage in defensive medicine because of the supposedly omnipresent threat of lawsuits and the ‘stigma’ and ‘professional hassle’ associated with being sued. They propose claims should be adjudicated by panels of physicians and, where "preventable harm" is proven to have occurred, a panel of business experts and economists should then award compensation according to a scale similar to the disability benefits an injured worker can receive in a workers’ compensation case.

So, what can and should you do? These proposals and their promotion by some powerful political forces – including by some of the most well-connected lobbying firms in the state – should sound the clarion call to all of our members to do three things right now:

(1) Reach out to your local legislators or any legislators with whom you have a good relationship and remind them that you want to be a resource for them in the coming legislative session and that they should consult you if any legislation comes up that would affect their constituents’ constitutional right to trial by jury or their right to seek justice for harm they suffer on the job;

(2) Make a contribution to the Civil Justice PAC – or, if you already contribute to the PAC, then increase your contribution – so we can continue assisting legislative supporters of the Georgia Civil Justice System, regardless of party affiliation. In 2010, an astonishingly low percentage of members – barely 1 in 3 – contributed to the PAC. We have to improve that percentage if we are to be successful in the years to come; and

(3) Make a personal decision TODAY to contribute to the Directed Giving Program next year during the election season so that Georgia’s Trial Lawyers will have the necessary means to defend supporters of the Civil Justice System  and to take on adversaries of your clients’ rights, your profession, and your ability to pursue justice for the people of Georgia.

Working together, we can and will continue preserving the Civil Justice System and the Constitutional Right to Trial by Jury. This requires ALL OF US to make an effort – not just for the benefit of your individual clients’ cases – but for the benefit of all Georgians who rely on the Civil Justice System and our preservation of that system through political engagement before, during and after the legislative session.

The 2012 legislative session starts in less than a month. We ask you to do your part NOW so that we can be successful in 2012.  We will see you under the Gold Dome!

Geoff Pope
GTLA President


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