A proposed state constitutional amendment to limit damage awards for medical malpractice is dead.
A Senate tort-reform amendment needed a two-thirds Wednesday but fell two votes short, 18 to 12. A similar amendment in the House came up five votes shy, with 35 in favor and 22 against.
That means neither resolution will go to the public for a vote.
Both proposals would have allowed the Legislature to limit awards for non-economic damages. That includes compensation for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Those arguing against the amendment in the House included Representative Wayne Johnson, of Cheyenne, who recounted how his 17-year-old daughter died after undergoing routine knee surgery in 1987.
Johnson says the current system allows people like him and his wife to seek full compensation for damages.
Proponents of the Senate bill included Senator John Barrasso, a Casper physician. Barrasso says he’s been getting a barrage of mail and e-mail trying to persuade him to move to states that have enacted tort reform.
While Barrasso has no plans to move, he says he can’t speak for other doctors who are getting the same mail.
Doctors and hospitals say high damage awards are a main cause of the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance. Trial lawyers say the rising rates are mainly the result of insurance companies’ poor-performing stock investments.
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