Wyoming Legislator: Tort Reform Defeat ‘A Huge Mistake’

April 27, 2005

Wyoming voters erred when they defeated the proposed constitutional amendment in November to allow the state to cap medical malpractice damage awards, Rep. Barbara Cubin said.

“I think that was a huge mistake,” Cubin told about 35 people at a town meeting April 25.

The proposed amendment to change the Wyoming Constitution would have allowed the Legislature to set limits on the amount of noneconomic pain and suffering damages that juries could award in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Proponents, led by doctors and hospitals, said that tort reform would encourage insurance companies to not raise their rates so much if they knew their liability was limited. Opponents, led by lawyers, asserted that tort reform would do nothing to stem the rise in premiums, while depriving citizens the right to full access to the legal system.

Cubin said both the legal and insurance systems need reform to resolve problems of access and affordability of health care.

Without tort reform, doctors will need to continue administering unnecessary procedures to minimize their legal risk, Cubin said.

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