The jury deliberated seriously and intently for six hours. They had listened to four days of testimony in a medical malpractice trial involving a dying man’s claim that his doctor had failed to order the proper tests to rule our colon cancer when he was 35. The 42-year-old man now has stage 4 incurable colon cancer. The clinic that employed the doctor, AP&S clinic, is now known as UAP Clinic in Terra Haute, Indiana. The doctor who the plaintiff contends failed to diagnose the colon cancer treated the plaintiff, Mr. Jeffrey Davis, when he was 35 years old and presented with rectal bleeding and other gastric complaints.
The jury’s verdict was $2.5 million. He had requested $3.1 million. None of that matters, because the state of Indiana caps medical malpractice lawsuits at a total of $1.25 million. The jury didn’t know that when it went into deliberation.
The jury clearly didn’t consider this a frivolous lawsuit, otherwise they would have rendered a verdict of no negligence and Mr. Jeffrey Davis would have walked away with $0. But whenever we hear about the usefulness of medical malpractice caps it’s always disguised under the premise of getting rid of frivolous suits.
Here is what tort reform has done in this case. It has barred Mr. Davis from receiving a verdict that a jury of his peers deemed just. It has barred a group of jurors in Indiana from having their voices acknowledged. It has barred his health insurance carrier from being adequately reimbursed. It diminishes the deterrence factor of having to be accountable for your actions because doctors and medical providers will be protected the most when they commit the most egregious of errors. And most importantly it keeps money in the pockets of insurance companies rather than victims.
In the end, Mr. Davis was denied a fighter’s chance to beat colon cancer. He took on an equally tough fight, however, against a doctor and malpractice insurance carrier and won. I believe his fighting spirit will live much longer than the “tort reform” laws across this country that are designed to do one thing only — block justice.