Los Angeles, CA — The survivors of medical negligence behind a California ballot measure to adjust California’s 45-year-old cap on quality of life and survivor damages announced today that they will be pushing the vote to 2022. Proponents have collected almost one million signatures.
“Voters are overwhelmed with trying to keep their families safe and deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19. While we are constantly hearing from more Californians harmed by medical negligence who have been denied accountability because of this 45-year-old law, it will be more productive to have this conversation when everything stabilizes,” said Scott Olsen, a survivor of medical negligence and proponent of the measure, who is a board member of Consumer Watchdog.
Olsen’s son Steven was only two years old when he was rendered blind and brain-damaged by medical negligence. Twenty-three years ago, a California judge was forced to reduce the jury’s $7 million verdict for Steven’s lost sight, brain function, and independence to California’s $250,000 cap. Steven is 30 years old today and requires full-time care and supervision.
The proponents of the ballot measure will be submitting their 988,000 signatures in mid-May, in order to qualify for the 2022 ballot instead of the 2020 ballot. The initiative backers have until June 1st to turn in the signatures but would have to turn them in by the beginning of May in order to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.
The ballot measure would adjust for inflation the maximum $250,000 compensation cap set by the California Legislature and Governor Brown in 1975 on quality of life and wrongful death survivor damages. The Fairness for Injured Patients Act also allows judges and jurors to decide that compensation above the cap is appropriate in certain cases of catastrophic injury or death, and requires that juries be informed about the existence of the cap.
“The medical insurance complex is already trying to capitalize on the crisis to deprive survivors of their rights. We will bring this issue to voters when they can see clearly the fundamental unfairness for families with this cap,” said Bree Moreno, who along with her husband Nelson are the other proponents of the initiative. Their daughter Mia suffered permanent brain damage because she was negligently over-sedated and left unattended when she was just a few weeks old. Mia now lives a life of cerebral palsy, has very little control over her body’s movement, and will require lifelong care.
“The cap means my daughter will never be fairly compensated for everything she has lost. In two years, voters will get the chance to change these 45-year-old restrictions on our civil rights and rectify almost half a century of injustice,” said Nelson Moreno.
California’s maximum $250,000 compensation cap was set by the legislature 45 years ago and is worth 80 percent less today, only $50,768 in 1975 dollars.
California has the most regressive medical negligence cap in United States history, a restriction that Donald Trump is trying to impose on every patient in the country. Two-thirds of the states in America have no cap or have one like the current ballot measure proposes. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have no caps at all. Fourteen other states have caps with exemptions, such as for wrongful death or catastrophic injury.
Almost every major newspaper editorial board in California over the last decade has come out in favor of changing the half-a-century old law, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975 (MICRA), as have many prominent politicians:
Opposition to limits on fair compensation by juries is a part of the California Democratic Party’s platform.
The fight in the courts against the law is just beginning as well. In March, Yu Luo, a man paralyzed due to medical malpractice, asked a CA court in Alameda to declare the cap unconstitutional. Other victims have also pledged to follow through with similar complaints.
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