Archive for Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unfair law

September 17, 2008


To the editor:

Earlier this month, a Wichita jury awarded a sound verdict to a 23-year-old man, Kyle Jim, disabled for life by bad medical care. The jury found his doctor and hospital failed to treat Jim when he was 11 for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The disease, deadly if untreated, could have been cured with antibiotics which Jim didn't get. Now, he can no longer speak or hear, is brain-damaged, almost blind, and had several fingers and both legs amputated.

Jim's attorneys had to fight long and hard for justice for him. The jury heard the facts and awarded him $9.8 million, including $5.8 million for his disabilities and suffering. But, in Kansas, the law limits a jury's award. The judge must cut Jim's "noneconomic" damages by $5.5 million, down to $250,000.

That is because 20 years ago, Kansans passed a law to protect corporations and the insurance industry at the expense of people like Kyle Jim. We capped damages for disability, pain and suffering at $250,000. No matter what the jury decides.

Any fair-minded person can see that Jim's case is a sad example of the folly of that law. When negligence kills a person, noneconomic damages are also capped at $250,000. It is time for the Kansas Legislature to eliminate the damage caps, and let Kansas juries do their jobs. (If they get it wrong, a defendant can appeal). Robbing Mr. Jim of his jury verdict is not a crime but it sure seems like one.

Margaret Farley,


igby 9 years, 9 months ago

Kathy, our Gov. got $12,500 to launch her political career in the Dept. of insurance, from Dr. Tiller and other doctors contributed as well. Passing this bill was at the root of her political base from the beginning. I'm sure the trial lawyers found this bill distasteful because it does cap their means to invest in expensive cases. Reforming health care is spoken with a double face when it comes to Doctor's fee's. Political Poison and a double edge sword for any political drive for a solution. Today's economic troubles will hopefully save the tax payers from health reform.

Brent Garner 9 years, 9 months ago

The solution is simple. The loser pays the winner's legal expenses. Under the current system both sides pay their own expenses. Inasmuch as most of these lawsuits are brought on a contingency basis (by the way, this usually awards the attorney around 1/3 rd of whatever the plaintiff wins) there is no deterrent for bringing specious lawsuits. With this simple change we could lift the caps and address the issue outlined in this LTE.Everyone should also be aware that the $250,000 cap is only on the pain and suffering portion of the decision. Economic loses are fully recoverable although many times difficult to determine. Health care costs are also, usually fully recoverable, and, in Kansas, due to another law, your insurance company cannot come back at you for reimbursement from what you won. At least that was the way it was the last time I looked.

devobrun 9 years, 9 months ago

Bowhunter, 9.8-5.5=4.3. So, 4.3+.25=4.55 million bucks. 2/3 of this is a shade over 3 million.3 million in a 5% tax-free muni bond yields $150 killobucks per year in perpetuity. From the poor young man's medical description, I'd say that won't be a long time.So, the young man's life is ruined because he got "Rickettsia rickettsii, a species of bacteria that is spread to humans by ixodid (hard) ticks. Initial signs and symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of fever, headache, and muscle pain, followed by development of rash. The disease can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, and without prompt and appropriate treatment it can be fatal. " from the CDC web site on RSF.The doc didn't give it to him.The doc was probably a primary care servant who got $15 after expenses for seeing the poor kid. Its all sad. Money helps, but it doesn't change the fact that the kid got the flu from a tick and was severely damaged by the time treatment was started. Bad break.

gr 9 years, 9 months ago

"9.8M minus 5.5M = 3.3Million""Bowhunter, 9.8-5.5=4.3."Sorry, but you both don't get the grade. Taking numbers out of a word problem and randomly applying equations to them does not get the answer.Of course, I am unclear as to what question you are answering, but with any I can guess, it's not correct.It's 5.8 - 5.5 = rounded is 0.3.They told that answer in the article for you.Or maybe you are answering the other question, but the equation is 9.8 - 5.8 = 4.0 and then take 2/3 of that giving 2.67.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 9 months ago

Margaret,You have no one to blame but the trial lawyers, those who have filed frivolous lawsuits, and the class action plaintiffs for their decades of abuse of the legal system.

splash_726 9 years, 9 months ago

$250,000 in pain and suffering may seem excessive to Bowhunter or setting, but I'm guessing they've never sufferend a catostophic injury either. I pray that neither of you do suffer such a fate, but remember in this case, the young boy (age 11) was denied a simple anti-biotic and as a result this young man (age 23) is dismemberd for the rest of his life. Period. As to the opinion that the 3 million for medical treament should be enough, without the ability to work and get insurance to cover medical bills, and given the extreme medical impairments at hand, there won't be any investing to be done with that money. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 9 months ago

You are right. That cap sucks, and is totally unfair to suffering victims of someone else negligence. It should be removed, and there should be NO cap on damages like this. This poor man probably will spend that $ 250,000 just in medical bills in a few years. Then where is he? I think the original jury award should be reinstated after our fine legislature repeals that stupid cap. Thank you, Lynn

gr 9 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, bowhunter, I still stand by my comments - and yours. Just not sure what the "point" is or what you're trying to show."so it started with 9.8MM including 5.8MM in d/s. 5.5MM are not awarded"Total is 9.8included is 5.8of that 5.8, 5.5 are not awarded. 5.8-5.5 = .3 for noneconomic damages.Total is 9.8included is 5.8 for disabilities and suffering (noneconomic damages)9.8 - 5.8 = 4 for economic damages and lawyer fees.....ok, I think I see how you mean....(9.8 - 5.8) + (5.8-5.5) = 9.8 - 5.5Which, if you add my 4.0 and 0.3 you get the same thing. I think that was apparent in my previous post about answering two questions.I guess you are trying to show the total gross amount including lawyer fees, whereas devo attempted to show the net result. But then, when you say take care of the "problem", is that for Kyle's suffering, or both his suffering AND economic and lawyer bills? I believe the main point of the letter was the pain and suffering part. Which means he only got 250K - or approximately 0.3.

KsTwister 9 years, 9 months ago

So basically by the time his attorneys get 1/2 for taking it to court and the government takes 1/3 of it in taxes then he didn't get much. I wager his bills take it all. Kansas as bad as it gets.

Brent Garner 9 years, 9 months ago

Actually, KsTwister, unless the judgement included punitive damages the remaining settlement after the attorneys take their rather large slice should be tax free. Another something most people don't know.

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