Illinois Malpractice Case May Shape Tort Reform

A brain-damaged baby in Illinois is at the center of one of the latest battles over tort reform. The state is one of several to limit certain damage awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The family's attorneys call the Illinois law unconstitutional. If successful, it will be a victory for injured patients who say juries, not lawmakers, should decide their case. Under the Illinois law, which has been in effect for two years, plaintiffs can recover no more than $500,000 from a doctor and no more than $1 million from a hospital for pain and suffering in malpractice cases.

The child in Illinois suffered brain damage during delivery; the lawsuit against a Chicago area hospital, a doctor, and nurse claims the damages greatly exceed the state's limits.

Constitutional attorneys are gearing up for a battle that some are calling a landmark tort-reform case.

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