Law and Disorder Radio

Law and Disorder May 1, 2017

Death Penalty Focus

The state of Arkansas had plans to execute 8 men in 11 days this April, rushing to do so before the expiration date of one of the drugs used for the lethal injections. The executions have been temporarily stayed by several court orders. Arkansas’s unseemly rush has raise anew questions about the efficacy, humanity, cost, and morality of the death penalty.  Statistically, it has an discriminatory impact on non-white, intellectually deficient, and poor people. The United States along with Saudi Arabia and China is one of the few countries in the world still using the death penalty.

Guest – Mike Farrell, actor and activist and the president and founder in 1988 of the San Francisco based organization Death Penalty Focus. DPF views the death penalty as an ineffective, cruel, and inappropriate response to the serious problem of violent crime. The organization provides information to the public, conducts media campaigns and is a resource to lawyers and educators across the country.

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Republicans Propose Medical Malpractice House Bill Limiting Damages Award

The Republicans in the House of Representatives recently introduced a bill to limit medical malpractice lawsuits brought by low income people on Medicaid and elderly people on Medicare. It would do so by limiting the amount they could recover for their pain and suffering caused by, for example, getting infected bedsores in a nursing home, a medication mixup, malnutrition, dehydration, or being the victim of a egregious medical errors such as when a foreign body is left inside a patient. More examples include when a baby’s brain is damaged, or when surgery is performed on the wrong body part.  The bill has the support of the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the American Healthcare Association, a trade group for nursing homes.

The bill has several provisions that closely resemble legislation introduced by Tom Price,  President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.  When he was a House member from Georgia, Price, an orthopedic surgeon, championed legislation that would set limits on damages and make it easier for doctors to defend themselves and medical malpractice lawsuits.  For decades, Republicans have charged that there is a medical malpractice lawsuit crisis brought about by frivolous lawsuits.

Guest – Attorney Steven Pegalis, a trial attorney who represents patients and medical malpractice claims.  Attorney Pegalis is the author of the three volume textbook The American Law of Medical Malpractice.  He teaches the subject at New York Law School and is codirector of the New York Law School Health Law and Patient Safety Project.  Attorney Pegalis is the founding partner of Pegalis and Erickson and one of the nations foremost medical malpractice trial attorneys. He has practiced law for over 50 years.

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