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On March 24, 2014, California consumer supports stated they had amassed enough names to put an initiative on the November ballot that would increase a decades-old state cap on medical malpractice rewards to $1.1 million. The planned initiative, supported by trial attorneys and the Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog, would increase over four times the amount of money a patient could be reward for pain and suffering in a malpractice case—then limited at $250,000. Consumer Watchdog leader Jamie Court stated he would hang on until the day’s end on March 24 to present the final names, stopping to observe if a legislative negotiation that disintegrated a week ago would be restarted prior to an early evening cut-off date to present the names for an election initiative.
The Court stated besides increasing the cap on pain and suffering rewards, the initiative would demand arbitrary drug testing of physicians after increasing worry about over-prescription of addictive pain drugs, including among physicians. Patients’ representatives had attempted for no less than twenty years to convince the state to increase the restriction on pain and suffering rewards, which was established in the 1970s and was not systematized to inflation. Resistance from the California Medical Association and other physicians’ representative had made such modification hard to ratify.
Wishing to evade an expensive and hostile conflict between physicians and attorneys over the election initiative, state senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg in February 2014 presented a bill stating it was the legislature’s objective to draw both sides together and attempt to cause cooperation. A week ago, sources near the negotiations maintained, representatives of physicians and attorneys were near choosing a deal suggested by Steinberg to increase the restriction according to the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) to $500,000. The meeting disintegrated on March 21, the sources stated, resulting in a decision by Consumer Watchdog and Consumer Attorneys of California, the state trial attorneys association, to file the names by day’s end on March 24 if the legislature does not proceed.