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Court ends long battle by upholding state liability cap

After three years of waiting for a high court ruling, Kansas physicians are applauding a decision by the Kansas Supreme Court upholding the state’s $250,000 non-economic damages cap in medical liability cases. The decision strengthens the award limit and clears the uncertainty that has plagued health professionals since the cap first was challenged, said Jerry Slaughter, executive director of the Kansas Medical Society. “Although we have had a previous decision that upheld the cap, there continued to be questions about whether that was a definitive decision,” he said. “This decision was quite comprehensive and answered any existing questions. [The ruling] should satisfy any doubts about the cap’s constitutionality.” At this article’s deadline, attorney William Skepnek, who represented the plaintiff, had not returned messages seeking comment. In a statement issued Oct. 5, the Kansas Assn. for Justice, representing the state’s trial bar, expressed disappointment ...

Doctors appeal ruling dismissing certificate-of-need challenge

A group of physicians will appeal a court decision throwing out a constitutional challenge of Virginia’s certificate-of-need mandate. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Sept. 14 dismissed the doctors’ lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiffs’ claims had no merit. The physicians are not discouraged by the decision and are confident that they will prevail in a higher court, said Robert McNamara, an attorney for the Institute for Justice. The libertarian civil rights law firm, based in Arlington, Va., sued the state on the doctors’ behalf. “It is important to appeal this case, because what the lower court did was completely wrong,” McNamara said. “This case is about vindicating the right to earn an honest living, not just for our clients, but for doctors and entrepreneurs nationwide.” A spokeswoman for Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell referred questions about the case to Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services Bill Hazel. At this arti ...

Court: Medical staff bylaws are not contracts between doctors and hospitals

A judge has ruled in a Minnesota case that medical staff bylaws do not constitute a contract between physicians and hospitals. The State of Minnesota District Court, 5th Judicial District, County of Lyon, said the creation of bylaws does not include the necessary legal requirements to make the regulations a binding contract. Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center in Marshall, Minn., had the authority to change the hospital’s former medical staff bylaws, and physicians must follow the latest rules, the court said in its Sept. 25 opinion. The ruling sets a bad precedent and is contrary to the widely held view that medical staff bylaws are a contract, said Robert Meiches, MD, CEO of the Minnesota Medical Assn. The MMA co-wrote a friend-of-the-court brief, along with the Litigation Center for the American Medical Association and the State Medical Societies, in support of the plaintiff doctors. A judge declined to accept the brief, saying it was not necessary at the time. “A ho ...