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Mark Schofield
Mark Schofield
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Mayor-Elect Adrian Fenty and Medical Malpractice Reform

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On September 12, 2006, voters in the District of Columbia headed to the polls to select a Democratic candidate to replace outgoing Mayor Anthony Williams. With 57% of the votes, former D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty defeated council Chairwoman Linda Cropp. With nearly 74 percent of the District’s voters registered Democrats, Fenty’s primary win virtually insures him of taking over as Mayor in January.

One question that may linger in the minds of the District’s personal injury attorneys? What impact, if any, might this have on my practice?

While serving as a councilmember, Adrian Fenty wasn’t provided with many chances to really outline his position of personal injury law and/or tort reform, however, signs do exist that Fenty may have more in common with the Plaintiff’s bar. In the summer of 2005, Adrian Fenty was a co-sponsor of the Medical Malpractice Insurance Reform Amendment Act of 2005. Aimed at reducing insurance premiums to bring them more in line with the decrease in medical malpractice payouts in the District, the bill’s sponsor, Linda Cropp, stated:

But tort reform isn’t the answer,” Cropp concluded. “The problem is the high rate of insurance,” she
stated. “Payments to patients who sue doctors in the District have declined dramatically, even as doctors
and politicians have blamed skyrocketing jury awards for driving up the cost of malpractice insurance and
driving doctors out of business” quotes a recently released study noted by the Chairman.

Followign the introduction of this bill, Mayor Anthony Williams made a push to implement medical liability reform in the District. Titled “Keep your Doctor in D.C., Mayor Williams rolled out a campaign to “educate” the District’s residents on what Mayor Williams termed the “looming medical-malpractice crisis.”

One of the main opponents of this campaign? Mayor-Elect Fenty.

“I really think that the mayor is off-base in this one,” said Mr. Fenty, who is running to succeed Mr. Williams. “The ads just ignore the fact that the insurance companies are raising these insurance rates, but they are blaming the doctors and the lawyers.”

Personal injury attorneys can only hope that Mayor Fenty continues to hold the beliefs of councilmember Fenty, so personal injury attorneys can continue to fight for the rights of victims of medical malpractice.