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July 24th, 2012

New Hampshire Lawmakers Override Gov. Lynch’s Veto of ‘Early Offer’ Reform Bill

 Judicial Hellholes reporters come belatedly but happily to this story about New Hampshire lawmakers, with the override of a gubernatorial veto, forcing into law an innovative medical liability reform that some think may be adopted by other states.

As reported by the Heartlander, lawmakers voted on June 27 to override Gov. John Lynch’s earlier veto of Senate Bill 406, designed to supplement the Granite State’s existing medical tort process with an “early offer” option.

“Once implemented,” observes the Heartlander, ”the early offer process will allow plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to request a settlement from their medical provider. If the provider responds with an offer before a 90 day deadline, the claimant has two options: accept and waive the right to further litigation, or refuse. If the offer is refused and the plaintiff then chooses to file a traditional tort claim, the plaintiff must post a bond for the defendant’s legal fees, for which the plaintiff is liable if the final award is not at least 125 percent of the early offer amount.

“John McClaughry, vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute, said the approach could bear fruit.

“’The unique New Hampshire tort reform bill is certainly worth a try. The ‘exit ramp’ approach to a medical malpractice tort case promises a rational settlement without the misery and expense of prolonged and uncertain litigation, and makes the claimant think rationally instead of entertaining expansive dreams of untold wealth,’” he said.

State Rep. J. Brandon Giuda  had a major hand in drafting the new early offer law.  His recent op-ed in the Manchester Union Leader better explains the details.

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