Friday, April 07, 2006


Letter to Editor Goes After Madeira's Tort Reform

Bill Thiel of West Pittston's letter appeared in today's Citizens Voice. He challenges Madeira's tort reform argument. Thiel's emotional letter is printed in its entirety below:


Nobody likes a lawyer until they need one. That is the age-old truism exploited by Dr. David Madeira, a Republican candidate for state Senate, in a recent letter to the editor calling for a $250,000 cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

This from a chiropractor who probably pays a few thousand dollars a year for liability insurance. Dr. Madeira, who boasts a degree from
Bob Jones University, claims 70 percent of all malpractice lawsuits are dropped or dismissed. The truth is the majority of malpractice lawsuits are secretly settled out of court so doctors’ dirty laundry doesn’t get aired in public.

Dr. Madeira also says physicians are leaving the state, but the number of doctors practicing in Pennsylvania has increased every year since 1996 — from 36,882 in 1996 to 40,832 in 2004, according to figures compiled annually by the American Medical Association. He also refers to “Disappearing Doctors” research by Donna Rovito, which has been completely discredited by the media.Dr. Madeira says a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages is needed to reduce “frivolous” lawsuits.

But such a cap wouldn’t do a thing to reduce “frivolous” lawsuits. It would only cause further harm to people seriously injured by malpractice — people like my late wife, Maureen. She filed and won a lawsuit in Monroe County after three different doctors failed to diagnose her breast cancer, causing her to die a horrible death at age 42. Because she wasn’t a big wage earner, most of the damages the jury awarded were for non-economic damages.

Dr. Madeira’s proposal would reduce the value of her life to $250,000. To Dr. Madeira and the rest of the lawyer bashers in organized medicine, I hope you and your loved ones never need a lawyer. I hope you never have to endure what my family went through. I would suggest that if you want to end lawsuits, stop the misdiagnosis, medication errors, hospital-acquired infections, wrong-site surgeries and many other avoidable mistakes that are killing hundreds of thousands of patients every year in America. Until you do that, you have no right to complain about lawyers and lawsuits. I live in the 20th Senatorial District and my door is always open. I would invite Dr. Madeira, or any other doctor or politician who supports “tort reform” to stop by, look my two boys in the eye and tell them their mother’s life was only worth $250,000.

Bill Thiel
West Pittston

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