Advocates and Victims Thank Senate Leader For Holding Hearings On 38-Year-Old Damage Cap Law to Address CA Patient Safety Crisis

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Santa Monica & Danville, CA – California’s Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg told injured patients and their families gathered on the Capitol sidewalk last week that he would hold hearings into the state’s nearly 38-year-old cap on victims’ recovery.

Jerry Brown signed the $250,000 cap on how much injured patients could receive for the loss of their quality of life in his first term as governor and it has never been indexed for inflation. The death of a child is capped at $250,000, regardless of how egregious the malpractice.

In a letter sent today, leaders of the “38 Is Too Late” group wrote Senator Steinberg to thank him and ask that he hold hearings as soon as possible.

Bob Pack, a NetZero pioneer who lost his young children in an accident after a drug abuser obtained narcotics from reckless prescribing, and Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, wrote of the 1975 law: “Back then, lawmakers made just $22,000 a year. Lawmakers’ salaries have increased 400% since then, and the price of everything else has gone up, except the value of a child’s life.”

Download the letter:

Pack and Court announced last week that they would seek a ballot initiative to change the cap and enact additional patient safety measures if the legislature fails to act.  

“Bob’s two children, Troy and Alana, were run over by a drugged driver who had received thousands of pills from the same medical group. Troy and Alana’s lives were worth more than $250,000. Alex Smick received a fatal drug overdose from the facility he sought treatment in. His life was worth more than $250,000. Malyia Jeffers was ignored in the ER until an infection ravaged her body. Malyia’s lost hands and feet are worth more than $250,000. A misdiagnosis in the ER sent developmentally disabled Cali Andrist into cardiac arrest. Cali’s life was worth more than $250,000. We look forward to sharing with you and your colleagues these stories, and those of other Californians whom this nearly 38-year-old law has devastated,” wrote Pack and Court.

“Almost four decades ago the medical lobby convinced the legislature to take away patients’ legal rights in return for a promise of stronger doctor oversight. The Medical Board of California has never kept that promise. It’s time to give patients back their rights and hold dangerous doctors accountable.”

The “38 Is Too Late” website — — tells the stories of the victims of the unjust law and rallies the public’s support for changing the almost 38 year-old cap.

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Carmen Balber
Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber has been with the organization for nearly two decades. She spent four years directing the group’s Washington, D.C. office where she advocated for key health insurance market reforms that were ultimately enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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