House committee kills malpractice measure

Cheyenne, WY – An attempt to cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases was killed last night in the House Judiciary Committee.

Medical groups came out in force asking the legislature to help them reduce the high cost of medical malpractice insurance. They claim that the high insurance premiums have made it difficult to both recruit and retain doctors.

The Wyoming Medical Society's Dennis Ellis says it came up again on Monday: "We actually had a physician who was going to sign in Wyoming, sign in Washington and his primary reason was the liability climate and his fear of lawsuit. So it's not anecdotal, it's a very real thing." Ellis says Wyoming is struggling to find doctors to come to the state, especially in rural areas.

But citizen groups and the Wyoming trial lawyers say there is no evidence to show that caps on damages will reduce malpractice premiums. Representative Mary Throne says until she gets solid evidence, she will not vote to take away citizen rights: "I feel that before you monkey around with the Constitution you need to know that it is worth the risk."

The Governor had supported the bill in his annual state of the state message.