District Clerks Have Medical Malpractice Overload - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/4/03

District Clerks Have Medical Malpractice Overload

The District Clerk's office is dealing with about triple the workload this week because of an influx in medical malpractice lawsuits filed last week. The deadline to file was last Friday but they say it's a race against the clock to keep up with the workload.

"We've seen about a triple load on the filing of civil cases," says Deputy District Clerk, James Salas. A triple work load that began after the August 29th deadline to file a medical malpractice lawsuit without a cap on non economic damages.

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"We've been really busy with a lot of suits being filed. A lot of the cases involving medical malpractice and personal injury," says Salas.

Salas says on a normal business day they receive only a few malpractice lawsuits or none at all. And in light of the new law he's counting the dozens of lawsuits he's received in just one day. The full report for August 29th is at least an inch thick. He says it's taking mountains of paperwork to file malpractice cases. Because many of them have multiple parties as litigants. "That's what took up a lot of our time is getting all the parties into the system, addresses and business addresses so that we could have it to put in the computer, we already have that on file," says Salas.

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And now all this paperwork will be passed on to district judges who will now have to handle the large malpractice lawsuit workload along with hundreds of other civil cases.

Now the state law called Proposition 12, capping damages for malpractice lawsuits, will be voted on September 13th. It's a question of whether the legislature has the authority to set those caps. If it's defeated the caps are still in place, but Texans will have the ability to sue over whether the legislature could make that decision in the first place.

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