California: trial lawyers qualify initiative to overturn MICRA

MICRA, approved by California voters in 1974, limits noneconomic damage payouts in medical malpractice cases and has been the main reason medical liability insurance rates in the state are only in the middle of the pack nationally despite the state’s long-earned reputation as one of the most litigious in general. Focus-group research led trial lawyer advocates to tack on a provision prescribing drug testing for doctors to improve the measure’s chances [James Hay, San Diego Union-Tribune; Legal NewsLine and more; ABA Journal] Some predict that the impending lawyers-vs.-doctors battle, with various allies brought in on both sides, will be the most expensively fought ballot measure in history. Earlier coverage of MICRA here.


  • While I support –from afar; I am not a California resident– the idea of MICRA, its defenders may have been unwise not to increase its ceilings during the inflation-filled years since its enactment. Now the litigation lobby have a good political opening to do it on their own, with a generous mark-up.

  • A couple of mistakes in your article. MICRA was put in place in 1975, not 1974, and it was not voter approved, it was put in place by the legislature.

    It also has done NOTHING to keep medical liability rates low and here’s the California insurance commissioner talking about that.