Nearly lost in the news of this week's medical malpractice suit filed by Adriane Springs, wife of former Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs, is the forthcoming federal suit that will be the first federal challenge to Texas HB 4, passed in June 2003. The bill caps the amount of money folks can pocket when they sue for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, when they file medical malpractice suits; that cap is $250,000.
Attorney Les Weisbrod, representing Springs in the state lawsuit, says Springs will become a lead plaintiff, among a dozen others, in a federal constitution challenge to the Texas cap. Weisbrod says Robert Peck, who is the lead attorney in the federal case and is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Litigation, expects the suit to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This case underscores the injustice of a $250,000 cap in Texas on non-economic damages for most severely injured victims of medical malpractice,” Weisbrod tells Unfair Park. “The premise of this federal challenge is that the non-economic damages cap in Texas is a direct violation of a plaintiff’s constitutional right to trial by jury.”
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Weisbrod -- whose Web site describes him as "the 'pitbull' of the Texas medical malpractice bar" -- refused to give a ballpark figure for the damages, saying “that is still to be determined.” He also didn’t give a specific date for when the federal suit would be filed, but said it would be within the next few weeks. Once the suit is filed, the additional plaintiffs will be revealed.
On Tuesday, it was announced the the Springs family was suing Dr. Joyce Abraham, Dr. David Godat and the Texas Anesthesia Group, blaming them for Ron Springs' coma following minor surgery in October to remove a cyst from his arm. Medical City Dallas Hospital was left out of Tuesday’s lawsuit, but only because Weisbrod was unable to obtain the policies and procedures documents from the hospital to determine what, if any, role they played in Springs’ case. He says he didn't get the docs until after the suit had been filed.
Weisbrod also says doctors do not have a definite prognosis for 51-year-old Springs. Wife Adriane Springs told the Associated Press earlier this week that her husband is unlikely to recover.
“He is breathing on his own and does have limited movements, but he is not responsive to verbal commands," Weisbrod says. "The doctors do not expect him to come out of his coma-like state in reasonable medical probability.” --Sam Merten