Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Juries More Likely To Favor Defendants In Malpractice Lawsuits, Study Finds

Juries are more likely to favor defendants in medical malpractice lawsuits, in part because they have more resources than plaintiffs and in part because of the "social standing of physicians and social norms against 'profiting' by injury," according to a recent study, the Chicago Tribune reports. For the study, which will appear in the May issue of the Michigan Law Review, Philip Peters, a University of Missouri-Columbia law professor, examined 17 years of malpractice lawsuits. The study found that juries are more likely to provide defendants with the "benefit of the doubt" when evidence of negligence is in conflict, Peters said. According to study, plaintiffs win few malpractice lawsuits in which evidence of negligence is weak, and defendants win about half of cases that legal experts expect plaintiffs to win. Peters said that he conducted the study because Congress has begun to consider legislation that would shift malpractice lawsuits from civil juries to administrative health courts (Deardorff, Chicago Tribune, 4/17).

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