Lawmakers and Day 12

By  | 

Day 12 of the Mississippi special session got off to a slow start. House and Senate conferees were unable to meet because one of the negotiators was out of town.

The conference was expected to resume later on Monday to address the state's medical malpractice issue.

The two chambers are having a hard time agreeing on venue or the percentage of financial responsibility each defendant has, if damages are awarded.

Caps for "pain and suffering" awards in malpractice cases against doctors, hospitals and nursing homes also are at issue.

The House is proposing a $600,000 cap for most cases. Under some circumstances, there would be no caps.

The Senate is proposing a $500,000 cap for most cases, with a $1 million cap for exceptional circumstances.

The special session costs $33,000 per day. The total so far is $396,000.

According to Sen. Terry Burton, the current impasse revolves around the House not wanting to truly compromise.

"Basically, the House would like the Senate to adopt what the House passed on the House floor, with few exceptions, and doesn't want to look at any of the recommendations from the Senate side," said Burton. "And that's not what compromise is all about. It would be a total surrender of our position, as the chairman said. So we're still working, still hoping that something can come out of this."

There are two points of contention this week. The first is the venue clause, or where the case should be filed. Most say it should be filed in the county that the incident occurred. But what if an out of state company owns the plant where the incident occurred? The other is joint and several liability. If there are several doctors around an operating table and something goes wrong, how is blame assessed?

"I actually think that we should consider giving on these two points.," said Sen. Gloria Williamson of Philadelphia. "It's not going to be a major deal. It will be a major deal if the medical community does not get medical malpractice help. So I'm hoping we get that straight."

While there may be no end in sight, these lawmakers say this is nothing unusual. "Even in a regular session, this is what happens. It's hurry up and wait," said Burton.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.