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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TORT REFORM LIMITS


An attempt to overturn the limit for minors to file medical liability claims that was part of our 2003 tort reform law hit a brick wall at the Texas Supreme Court. The case, Tenet Hospitals v. Rivera involved an allegation of negligence on the part of the hospital during the birth of a child in 1996. Our tort reform law said claims of negligence that occurred before the law passed must have been filed by 2006. In 2004, an attorney for the mother notified the hospital of the minor’s claim, but no suit was filed until 2011. The court was asked to decide whether that part of the law was constitutional as applied to minors injured at birth who would never have the opportunity to sue on their own behalf (since they do not reach the age of majority until eight years after the 2006 deadline). The high court agreed with a brief filed by TMA, the Texas Alliance for Patient Access, and other health care groups that the legislature struck the appropriate balance between a person’s right to sue and the stability needed for medicine and the liability insurance industry. The court left open the possibility that it would revisit the issue in a case with different circumstances.

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