Doctors say defeated bill to cap award will hurt

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April 27, 2004

HARTFORD — A fiery debate leads to a crushing defeat for doctors in Connecticut.

State lawmakers have voted against imposing a cap on court settlements and jury verdicts.

The executive director of the Connecticut State Medical Society is only saying what many doctors are feeling over Monday night's late vote in the house.

Legislators rejected the medical community's push to cap pain and suffering damages to doctors.

Tim Norbeck says it came down to a war of words.

Norbeck says, "We have our information from a number of sources that show that caps would help alleviate the situation, reduce rates and stabilize the system. Our opponents had their information and it became an informational war and whose information you believe."

It was a major victory for families like Cindy Iriondo's.

They won a multi-million dollar malpractice settlement for her paraplegic son.

Iroiondo says, "There is absolutely no way that $250,000 can pay for anything. It can not compensate you for the damage that has been done and I don't see how physicians can quantify pain and suffering anyway. It's a case by case scenario."

Kathleen Nastri says, "The cap as I see it is just a way to penalize the victim without really providing real relief to doctors who need it."

Supporters say the defeat to cap jury verdicts and settlements will only lead to more physicians dropping out of practice and limiting their services.

Tim Norbeck says, "If there is something other than caps that will help reduce that would give immediate relief to physicans which they desperately need now and give us an opportunity to stabilize the system to lend some predictability, we would embrace it."

The House did pass a reform package aimed at easing medical malpractice premiums.

However Governor Rowland has said he will veto any malpractice bill that does not include a cap.