Most settlements, especially those involving doctors and hospitals, involve confidentiality provisions. They are almost always a condition of settlement and the defense will refuse to settle a case without one.
The California Supreme Court on July 11, 2019 held in Monster Energy Company v. Schechter (Case no. S251392) held that such confidentiality provisions in settlements are valid and not only prohibit parties from discussing the terms of settlements, but their attorneys as well. The underlying case was a wrongful death case that resulted in a confidential settlement involving an energy drink company. The energy drink company sued the opposing attorney when that attorney boasted about the settlement on his website even though he did not disclose the settlement amount. The California Supreme Court held that the trial court appropriately denied the attorney’s motion to dismiss under California anti-SLAPP statute.
These confidentiality provisions create a real conundrum in the medical malpractice context. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see the same hospitals make the same mistakes or have the same systematic failures over and over and over again. It seems like these hospitals are unable (or do not care to) learn from their mistakes. These mistakes often have fatal consequences, such as failing to inform a patient that a laboratory or radiology report confirms a cancer diagnosis.
Many of these hospitals are part of huge multi-million dollar corporations. A corporation or company can own and/or manage dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of hospitals. Due to the 44-year old California MICRA cap of $250,000 that has not risen a cent for inflation since 1975, there is simply no incentive for these hospitals to spend extra money on training nurses and staff, implement quality control changes, or risk an uncapped employment-based lawsuit in terminating the privileges of bad doctors. In short, it would cost these corporate hospitals far more to implement the necessary patient safety changes than to simply pay out on lawsuits unfairly capped by California law.
The only possible counter to this is public being made aware of these systematic and deadly failings. However, confidential settlements protect these hospitals and allow the wrongful conduct to repeat itself unchecked. As attorneys, however, our ethical obligation is usually to our single client and not a hypothetical, potential future victim. As such, we are often forced into these confidential settlements, keeping the hospital and/or doctor’s wrongful conduct hidden and (unfortunately) prone to be repeated.
Examples of Medical Malpractice:
- Operating on the wrong area of the body
- Practicing medicine while impaired in any capacity
- Leaving an instrument or medical supply inside a patient after surgery
- Prescribing the wrong dosage of medicine to a patient
- Failing to turn a patient over, resulting in bedsores
- Misdiagnoses, such as cancer misdiagnosis or failing to identify the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke
- Improperly treating a patient’s condition
- Failing to inform the patient of known risks
People make mistakes, however, the medical profession has standards of care and procedures to prevent these mistakes from occurring. When these procedures are not followed and the medical staff is not proactive, the outcomes may require a lawyer who has specific experience in medical malpractice cases.
Medical Malpractice Verdict and Settlements
The attorneys at Hodes Milman Ikuta have successfully fought on behalf of hundreds of people who have been affected by a medical professional’s mistake and recovered millions of dollars for future care. Below are a few examples of recoveries which may also be found on our Case Results page.
Medical Malpractice FAQ’s
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
There is no up-front cost to have a consultation or hire our lawyers. Our firm works on a contingency-fee basis and will front the costs of the court, experts, gathering evidence, and other fees. Our fees are contingent on the outcome of your case and only if we win will there be a fee. This is a common question and we are glad to discuss this during your consultation.