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AAPI Thanks Gov. Nikki Haley for Signing Tort Reform Bill into Law123

Jul 21, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Today, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) issued the following statement after sending a letter to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley thanking her for signing a new tort reform bill into law.

“As a businesswoman, Governor Haley understands the impact of frivolous lawsuits,” said AAPI president Dr. Sunita Kanumury. “As doctors, we understand the enormous constraints such unnecessary litigation has on our practices, reputations, colleagues and families. We need to create an environment conducive to the safe, successful practice of medicine, and the leadership of Governor Nikki Haley will help to do just that,” said Dr. Kanumury.

The vast majority of lawsuits brought against physicians are meritless. In 2005, the Physician Insurers Association of America (PIAA) found that 75 percent of medical liability claims were closed without any payment to the plaintiff. Only 7 percent of cases went to trial, and in those, physicians prevailed 83 percent of the time but incurred nearly $100,000 in legal costs. 

“We thank Governor Haley for her longtime support of physicians,” said AAPI legislative committee chairwoman Dr. Vijaya Appareddy. “We know how vital it is to have leadership at the state level to pass tort reform, which creates a positive climate for a successful physician-patient relationship. Governor Nikki Haley should be strongly commended for ensuring that appropriate constraints on punitive damages were signed into law, and it is our hope that other Governors follow her lead on this important issue.”

AAPI plans to create a tort reform initiative, helping its members understand which states have passed tort reform legislation and which states have yet to do so.

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July 21, 2011

Governor Nikki Haley
Office of the Governor
1205 Pendleton Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Dear Governor Haley,

On behalf of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), we write to thank you for your leadership in signing into law the “South Carolina Fairness in Justice Act of 2011,” which takes effect on January 1, 2012.

This important legislation is modeled after Florida’s tort reform laws and improves existing tort reform laws in South Carolina by reforming punitive damages. While South Carolina previously passed tort reform legislation to curb unnecessary and frivolous lawsuits against physicians and businesses, the awarding of large-scale punitive damages always remained a concern. Now this loophole has been closed due to your leadership.

As physicians who seek the best care for patients, we are sensitive to the needs of a patient who may have a legitimate claim against a health care provider. However, we are not sympathetic to an aggressive trial bar that seeks to damage a physician’s reputation and pressure insurance companies to settle dubious medical malpractice claims out of court in order to receive substantial attorney’s fees. We cannot expect physicians to successfully practice medicine in such an operating climate. Left unchecked, such an environment can only raise the cost of health care across the United States, as more physicians practice defense medicine to protect themselves from lawsuits, rather than practicing the best medicine possible for patients.

AAPI plans to highlight a new nationwide tort reform initiative, informing our members of states friendly to physicians and small businesses. We are pleased that South Carolina will be on that list because of your leadership. We look forward to working with you to ensure the best possible environment is created in South Carolina that benefits both patients and consumers.

Yours truly,

Dr. Sunita Kanumury, MD
AAPI President


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