Trial lawyers target only Dem to support malpractice bill

The trial lawyers’ lobby is hitting Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) over his vote in favor of a medical malpractice bill that would pre-empt part of his state’s constitution.

The American Association for Justice is targeting lawmakers who voted to override either their state constitutions or rulings by their state supreme courts by supporting the malpractice bill. In addition to falling into that category, Matheson is the only Democrat who supported the measure when it passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week.

“This is an egregious example of ‘Washington Knows Best’ thinking and a total disregard for states’ rights and patient safety,” AAJ spokeswoman Michelle Widmann said in a statement.

The Utah constitution disallows caps on damages in wrongful-death lawsuits. The House bill would override that prohibition. AAJ also noted that Matheson voted against an amendment that would have weakened the bill’s pre-emption of state malpractice laws, including constitutional limits.