Piccola Unveils Contingency Fee Legislation During Pa. Physician Rally

May 7, 2003

Senate Majority Whip Jeffrey Piccola (R-15) unveiled new legislation Tuesday to several thousand members of the Politically Active Physicians Association (PAPA) during a rally held on the steps of the State Capitol. Piccola’s measure would reportedly establish a sliding scale for caps on contingency fees, which are charges that range from 30 to 40 percent of jury awards.

Piccola spoke to physicians from throughout the state who are reportedly frustrated by the inaction of Pennsylvania government to effectively address the medical liability crisis. Physicians have closed their offices and held rallies to demonstrate that their malpractice premiums result from unreasonable, high awards in lawsuits.

Piccola began his remarks by noting the underlying source of Pennsylvania’s medical liability situation. “The medical malpractice crisis is caused by a broken civil justice system. And the civil justice system must be repaired by the adoption of a constitutional amendment to permit caps on non-economic damages.”

“The fact that physicians are leaving the Commonwealth, limiting their practices, and retiring early is a direct result of outrageous medical malpractice premiums,” Piccola remarked.

Piccola shared his frustration over the many billboards and posters that have been displayed throughout Harrisburg as part of the personal injury lawyers’ campaign to stop caps on non-economic damages (pain and suffering).

“Someone is spending lots of money on these billboards which contain pictures of a beautiful little girl. They’re telling my constituents, ‘Senator Piccola wants to take away my rights, tell him, no,'” Piccola said.

“These trial lawyers reap 30 to 40 percent of awards in malpractice cases. They have the gall to stand before lawmakers and portray their opposition to caps, saying they will harm ‘victims,'” Piccola said. Piccola added, “I am tired of the relentless distortions.”

Continuing to fight for the rights of all Pennsylvanians, Piccola announced legislation to limit attorney contingency fees. “I propose this new legislation, not only because it is an issue of fundamental fairness for victims of medical malpractice, but because it is another part of the solution to the medical malpractice crisis.”

Voicing support for the plight of those medical professionals attending the rally, Piccola said, “There is a lot of support that exists and days like today help build that support and heighten awareness.”

Piccola added, “This protest allowed for an educational process for Pennsylvanians to see the various solutions that exist to effectively address the medical malpractice problem.”

Piccola concluded his remarks by stating, “It is time for a vote. If we don’t act quickly, we will have no health care in Pennsylvania because we will have no physicians.”

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