Friday, July 1, 2011

Rita Martinson, tort reform, and her doctor-suin' husband

Our civil justice system has been the focal point of internet chatter this week after the debut of the documentary "Hot Coffee" on HBO Monday night.  One of the consistent memes has been the idea that tort reform advocates are all for tort reform until they or a loved one suffers injury due to, say, medical malpractice.

Well, Rep. Rita Martinson (R-Madison) could possibly enlighten us on that.  Her husband, Billy Martinson, sued Dr. Harold Blaylock and the Mississippi Urology Clinic back in 2009 for medical malpractice.  The complaint says that Mr. Martinson was infected with E. coli during a prostate biopsy, and that he suffered some pretty awful symptoms as a result of the defendants' failure to properly clean the needle they used.  Chockwe Lumumba (constant target of lawyer haters) represented Rep. Martinson's husband in the case.

Wonder how Rep. Martinson would vote on tort reform now?  


Josh said...

Tort reform neither prevents one from suing for malpractice nor prevents one from being compensated for damages. It merely places a cap on damages in order to prevent "jackpot justice" in the form of exorbitant jury awards.

Mr. Martinson presented a case of malpractice to the court. I don't know if he won or lost or settled, but being pro-tort reform does not mean you are against holding people accountable for their actions (or inactions). It just means that a $100M award for pain and suffering might be a little excessive.

Anderson said...

This is not the smartest post I've ever seen. Is Rep. Martinson now *not* for tort reform? Did tort reform impair her husband's med-mal suit? Does Mr. Martinson have to have Mrs. Martinson's permission before he may file a lawsuit?

The Chokwe part is pretty funny, but not an argument.

Cottonmouth said...


What makes the cap on damages not arbitrary?

And it appears as though the case settled:

Lil' Enos Burdette said...

Josh, The tort reform movement caused plaintiffs who have been hurt by a medical mistake to 1) provide 60 days written notice of the claim; 2) provide a certificate of consultation that an expert says the case has merit; 3) not put a dollar amount in the complaint; and 4) cap damages at $500,000 for pain and suffering. You don't have to do any of this for normal cases. Pretty fair, huh? Face it - doctors are a protected class and they are better than you. Also, if you believe that tort reform was really about preventing jackpot justice from happening against doctors, you probably also believe strippers when they tell you that you are "different from all the other guys."

Obviously, Cottonmouth's point was that Martinson voted on something that ended up being against her husband's best interest. Probably got her the South Madison County neo-con vote, but sucks for him.

Rogen Chhabra said...

Back on early 2000's I thought some reform was needed. The real problem was the "magic jurisdiction" issue. This was fixed by the Supreme Court with anti-joinder rules. The Court system did this just fine without the legislature telling it what to do. So the real question to me is whether there was a real "McDonalds" frivilous lawsuit/runaway verdict problem that needed to be fixed or whether that was all just a bunch of politically motivated propoganda.

In the recent oral Argument before the MS Supreme Court, one of the Justices asked the defense lawyer if he could cite a single case in the history of Mississippi where the judiciary failed to protect us from a runaway verdict or frivilous case. His answer, and I'm quoting, was "no." The McDonalds case was a perfect example of how the general public can be so easily swayed with propoganda.

There has never in the history of the state been a $100M jury award for pain and suffering that held up. It has been next to impossible in this state's history to get even a $1million award to hold up all the way through appeal. The only cases that tort reform really have an impact on are the very few that otherwise could have gotten past multiple layers of Court scrutiny. Unfortunately, those were the most deserving cases of all.

Cottonmouth said...

Anderson, I'm sorry your post wound up in comment purgatory for so long. As for the content of the post, it's an observation and an honest question. How would she vote on med mal reform now that her husband was injured (rather awfully, I'd say) by medical negligence. It appears as though her husband settled the lawsuit, so we'll never know what the amount was. But I'm pretty certain it was less than what it would have been prior to tort reform.