Texas' Tort Reform law called unfair

Woman's legs amputated following ER misdiagnosis


In 2010, Connie Spears, 56, lost both legs due to what she claimed was an emergency room misdiagnosis.

She sued the health care providers involved but her case was tossed out of court because she could not prove the emergency room doctors acted intentionally with "willful and wanton negligence."

That is necessary under Texas law called "Tort Reform."

"The odds are long but we've made the decision to do what we can to help her," said Robert Hilliard, Spears' attorney.

He plans to appeal Spears case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

In 2003, the Texas legislature passed the Tort Reform law capping noneconomic damages a person can receive at $250,000 and set a willful and wanton damage standard.

Critics of the legislation, like Hilliard, say lawmakers went too far.

"The Medical Malpractice Act has created a situation where the scales of justice are unfairly balanced in favor of the defendant," Hilliard said.

Hilliard feels that malpractice cases should be resolved by a jury, not by legislators or elected judges.

"This legislation prohibits Connie Spears from ever going in front of a jury and saying, ‘This is what happened to me,'" he said.

Hilliard agreed doctors do need protection.

"I understand medicine under fire," he said. "I understand that ER situations can be much different than other situations."

For a list of recent stories Paul Venema has done, click here.

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