Vox Populi

Too Poor for Justice

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Too Poor To Sue

November 21, 2011

The Michigan Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, denied hearing a case that calls into question an indigent person’s right to sue for medical malpractice.  By doing so, the High Court has accepted the status quo where an individual’s Constitutional right to seek judicial redress for injuries will be denied if that person is too poor to pay the court entrance fee. Where the poor's plea's go to die

The case, Rebecca Williams Jackson v. Mecosta County Medical Center, et. al., went to the Michigan Supreme Court on August 30, 2011.  In a unanimous response, the court beat its average time by half in returning a terse “considered and denied” refusal to hear the case.  Where the average is 5 months, the Williams Jackson ruling was returned in a mere 83 days (counting weekends)—two and half months.  With that ruling, the High Court reaffirms that a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must submit with the complaint a doctor’s note stating that the case, in his view, has merit.  But it cannot be just any doctor, or just any note.  It must be a physician of equal qualifications (including minor certifications) who performs those duties at least half of his time.  This note also must be a sworn statement.  The logistics of obtaining such a note is daunting to an established firm with large on-hand cash (the going rate for such a statement runs from $1,500–$5,000, depending on speciality, for EACH defendant).  For an indigent litigant, this simple doctor’s note becomes an absolute barrier to accessing the court.  In a medical malpractice situation, suing is the only recourse to confront the physician and the only means of obtaining remediation for the injuries.  If this is taken away, then the injuries are compounded by injustice.

With the Court’s refusal to hear Williams Jackson’s case, they have institutionalised economic discrimination in the violation of one of the most basic rights a US citizen has—the right to justice.

 

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  1. […] to pay them. However, the requirement for eleven affidavits of merit was still in force. According the blog Vox Populi, this is an incredibly expensive proposition: The logistics of obtaining such a note is daunting to […]

  2. […] to pay them. However, the requirement for eleven affidavits of merit was still in force. According the blog Vox Populi, this is an incredibly expensive proposition: The logistics of obtaining such a note is daunting to […]

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