Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 10, 2006

Conflict of interest blocks tort reform

The Sun's article "Governor's supporters cool their heels in Annapolis" (March 2) notes that state Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman Brian E. Frosh "questioned whether Maryland is really in a medical malpractice crisis."

That observation was made by a legislator with an obvious conflict of interest - as a plaintiff's trial lawyer whose law firm conducts medical malpractice lawsuits.

For years, Mr. Frosh and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller have blocked oversight and action by the General Assembly on litigation reform in the medical malpractice insurance crisis that is driving competent, dedicated physicians out of practice.

Since the late 1980s, when I had the privilege of working with Marylanders for Malpractice Liability Reform, these two senators and Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, have blocked legitimate inquiry into tort reform and caps on the trial lawyers' take from lawsuits.

A special legislative session one year ago provided only a patchwork solution to the problem: a tax-supported fund to cover premium increases, with no tort reform hearings or examination of the questionable-lawsuit part of the problem.

Responsibility for blocking action for tort reform rests clearly in the hands of Senate and House leaders in Maryland.

The time has come to stop some politicians from protecting the excesses of trial lawyers in medical malpractice litigation at the public's expense.

This is not just a political issue, but an urgent matter concerning effective health care policy in Maryland.

George S. Wills

Baltimore

The writer is a former adviser to Marylanders for Malpractice Liability Reform.

Lawyers not owed immunity from suits

Lawyers sue doctors who make mistakes, but some of them think they should be immune from malpractice lawsuits ("Delegate reaffirms immunity-bill stand," March 3). Why is this? Are lawyers perfect?

Lawyers deserve no special law granting them immunity when they serve as a guardian ad litem for children.

Cases exist in which lawyers appointed to "protect" our children make serious mistakes. So let's let the juries and the courts do their job in legal malpractice cases.

We the people of Maryland need to have the opportunity to make lawyers accountable for their actions - especially when they claim to represent our children's best interests.

Kim Harkness Jerome

Crownsville

PSC should control all utility charges

The Public Service Commission has issued an order requiring Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. to allow three-year financing of the cost of the electricity rate increase that will begin on July 1 ("BGE increase, plus interest," March 7).

What a bunch of baloney.

Any public service that moves through a pipe or over a wire should be regulated by the PSC - with rates set by the PSC that allow a fair return to the service provider and reasonable charges for consumers.

It now appears that the PSC is nothing more than a pass-through entity that does little to protect consumers.

Who is left to protect the consumer from big business?

Phil Retchless

Baltimore

Energy deregulation just has not worked

The purpose of energy deregulation was to create competition and thereby lower energy costs ("Rate phase-in on table," March 9). Baltimore Gas & Electric Co's planned dramatic rate increases show that this effort has failed.

Since deregulation has failed to accomplish its goal, regulation of the industry should be reimposed to hold energy price rates to a reasonable level.

That just makes sense.

Ronald Sallow

Owings Mills

Unhealthy air adds to asthma attacks

The writer of the letter "High ozone levels don't cause asthma" (March 3) may be able to read a carbon monoxide monitor, but that does not make him an expert on the human body's reaction to ozone and smog.

Top scientists from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have concluded that ozone causes asthma and worsens existing asthma cases. And I can tell you from the reaction of two of my own family members that this is true.

Asthma sufferers do not have elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their bodies as compared with other people, and even if they did, ozone would not eat up the carbon monoxide.

Rather, the carbon monoxide immediately attaches to the body's hemoglobin and brings it up to do its dirty work before ozone can do anything.

That is why we need to protect all our sensitive populations, and regular folks too, from the air pollution assault from coal-fired power plants.

The Healthy Air Act before the Maryland legislature could cut that pollution by 90 percent and cut global warming gases, too. My family, and all families, need that reform.

Charlie Garlow

Silver Spring

The writer is an attorney in the clean air enforcement division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

U.S. still owes aid to temblor's victims

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