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Celebrity Medical Malpractice Cases

The wife of former Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against two Texas doctors she accuses of letting him slip into a coma, leaving him mentally and physically incapacitated.

Springs’ case is a wonderful story with a tragic ending. Last March, he received a kidney from ex-teammate Everson Walls and hopes were high for a full recovery, leading to some wonderful stories about Springs’ friendship with his ex-teammate Walls. The fact that Springs’ son is an active professional football player furthered the public’s interest in the story.

I have zero information on the merits of this malpractice case. It could have merit, I don’t know. Obviously, the injury is catastrophic. But it does not help the public’s perception of medical malpractice cases when it appears every famous person who has a bad medical outcome files a medical malpractice case. Charlie Weis and Dennis Quaid are a few recent examples of celebrity malpractice cases.

Why does this happen? Because many lawyers are more aggressive in taking cases on behalf of people that are famous even when the damages are not extensive or the probability of success is low. Everyone wants to be so-and-so’s lawyer and receive the ensuing publicity. The problem is that the public then perceives that every bad medical outcome case ends up being a medical negligence case, furthering the acceptance of medical malpractice insurance companies’ argument that people bring lawsuits every time something goes wrong. The economic demands of malpractice cases too often lead to the opposite result for most people: they have a meritorious case, but the costs of a malpractice case are such that no lawyer will take a risk to pursue the case.

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