Hope Medical Group for Women v. Lorraine LeBlanc

12.12.2008

Primary Content

The Center is challenging a Louisiana law that creates unlimited civil liability for any harm to a woman or fetus arising from an abortion and excludes abortion providers from the benefits of the State's tort reform regime.

Filing date: 10/26/2006

State: Louisiana

Plaintiff(s): Hope Medical Group for Women, K.P., M.D., and D.B., M.D.

Center Attorney(s): Stephanie Toti

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Bill Rittenberg

Summary: ,CRR brought this case on behalf of abortion providers in Louisiana to challenge a state civil liability law that makes it impossible for a physician to perform an abortion without exposure to enormous financial risk. The law allows an abortion patient to sue a physician for "damage" to the patient or the fetus "occasioned" by an abortion, regardless of whether the physician committed any fault in her performance of the abortion. Because every abortion damages the fetus, the only way for a physician to avoid being sued under the Strict Liability Statute is to stop performing abortions. As a result, the statute threatens to drive professional abortion providers out of business and leave women in Louisiana with no safe and legal options for terminating a pregnancy.

Additionally, the State recently has interpreted the Strict Liability Statute to exclude abortion providers from the benefits of Louisiana's medical malpractice reform regime. These benefits include participation in the Patient's Compensation Fund, a State-run medical malpractice insurance fund, an overall cap on medical malpractice damages of $500,000 per plaintiff, a limitation on physician liability of $100,000, and a requirement that any medical malpractice claim must be reviewed by a medical review panel before it can be filed in court. These benefits serve to discourage frivolous lawsuits against health care providers and to ensure that health care providers can obtain adequate insurance for non-frivolous lawsuits.

CRR brought this suit after the Patient's Compensation Fund refused to convene a medical review panel to review a claim of malpractice brought against two physicians at Hope Medical Group for Women, K.P. and D.B. The Patient's Compensation Fund asserted that the claim against our clients was governed by the strict liability statute and therefore fell outside the state's malpractice reform regime.

On August 26, 2009, the District court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds. The Center has filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

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