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States brief ~ IL governor signs bill lowering medical malpractice premiums

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law [Governor's press release] today a medical malpractice bill that he believes will lower medical malpractice insurance premiums. The bill [bill status] will cap non-economic damages at $500,000 for doctors and $1 million for hospitals, allow the state to moderate the costs of malpractice insurance and require another doctor to certify that a lawsuit has merit and should be brought to court before a case may be brought against a physician or hospital. It is expected that the non-economic damages cap will face court challenges with opponents claiming that the caps deny some victims their right to fair compensation in violation of the state constitution. Administrators at St. Anthony's Health Center in Alton, where the bill was signed, said rising premiums had forced 40 doctors to leave in the last three years. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • The Utah Supreme Court ruled [PDF text] Thursday that Workers Compensation Fund assets are owned by policyholders and not the state. The court found that Utah has no ownership interest in the Workers Compensation Fund or its assets and "that apart from the Legislature's ability to modify its governing statutes, the state has no managerial, financial or operational control over the Workers Compensation Fund [webpage] or its assets. The ruling upholds previous court decisions. The Insurance Journal has more.

  • Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro has asked [AG press release] a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit by the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma [tribe website] seeking unrestricted commercial fishing rights off North Bass Island in Lake Erie. The tribe sued the Ohio Department of Natural Resources [official website] saying the state should not be allowed to regulate its fishing rights based on a treaty ratified by the US in 1805. Petro says that the treaty does not apply to the land area at issue, but applies to land south of the area. The tribe plans to file a second lawsuit claiming outright ownership of 300 acres on the northern portion of North Bass Island. The Las Vegas Sun has more.

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