Did you know there is underway right now an effort in the Georgia Senate to eliminate your Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial in medical malpractice cases? That’s right. A bill has been introduced (again), SB 86, that seeks to eliminate jury trials in medical malpractice claims. This bill was introduced by Senator Brandon Beach from Alpharetta, and this is, at least, the second time around for the bill. Last year the same bill was introduced and a coalition made up of odd bedfellows, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA) and the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG), opposed it and it died a slow death. Like Lazarus, it has now been resurrected.
Supporters of the bill make the wild claim that this bill would reduce so-called “defensive medicine” where doctors supposedly order unnecessary medical tests. I find such a claim outrageous and offensive. Doctors should, likewise, be offended by this strategy. I have talked with many doctors and taken many depositions of doctors. I have never found them to order what they know are unnecessary medical tests. For a doctor to order what he or she knows to be an unnecessary test (and get paid for it, by the way) would be fraudulent and would violate every ethical oath the physician has ever taken. So that cannot be the real issue with this piece of legislation.
Who is behind it? Not the doctors themselves, as evidenced by the opposition of MAG, the doctors’ professional association. Not the citizens of Georgia. There has been no rallying cry that doctors shouldn’t be held accountable as every other citizen may be with he or she commits negligence that results in injury to someone. There have been no “runaway” verdicts in Georgia, either. Statistics show that doctors and hospitals win almost 85%-90% of all medical malpractice trials in Georgia.
“Replacing the time-tested civil jury system with a taxpayer-funded bureaucratic government agency would be an egregious infringement on Georgia citizens’ constitutional rights,” Georgia Trial Lawyers Association President Linley Jones said in a statement. “Senate Bill 86 eliminates all current procedural safeguards, legitimate accountability mechanisms and meaningful appeals processes … and I urge our lawmakers to reject this unconstitutional proposal outright.”
Do you think the Georgia Legislature should be working to eliminate any of your constitutional rights? If they can decide it’s perfectly alright to eliminate your Seventh Amendment right, then what’s next? Elimination of your Second Amendment right to own a gun? Is that really what you what your state representative or state senator to be focusing on? How can we take away our constituents’ constitutional rights?
As a member of the State Bar of Georgia, I took a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the State of Georgia and the Constitution of the United States. Our Legislators took a similar oath. This bill that would eliminate one of your constitutional rights does not abide by that oath. I am hopeful that the Georgia General Assembly continues to ignore such an outrageous bill, as it has every time it has been introduced in the past. In the meantime, though, Fellow Georgians, be aware.
Robin Frazer Clark pursues justice for those who have personal injury claims as a result of being injured in motor vehicle wrecks, trucking wrecks, defective products, defective maintenance of roads, premises safety, medical malpractice and other incidents caused by the negligence of others. Ms. Clark is the 50th President of the State Bar of Georgia and a Past President of Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and has practiced law in Georgia for 26 years. Mrs. Clark is listed as one of the Top 50 Women Trial Lawyers in Georgia and is a Georgia Super Lawyer. Robin Frazer Clark~Dedicated to the Constitution’s Promise of Justice for All.