Initiative won’t bring back dead kids
It’s been 11 years since Bob Pack lost his children, Troy, 10, and Alana, 7, to a hit-and-run driver under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs. This week, the Danville dad filed a proposed ballot measure in their memory: The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act of 2014.
Among other provisions, the Pack initiative would require random drug and alcohol testing for doctors. It also would require doctors who witness medical negligence or substance abuse by fellow doctors to report it.
Physicians that test positive for alcohol or drugs (while on duty), or who refuse to submit to testing, would be suspended from practicing medicine. And hospitals would be required to report any verified positive results of drug and alcohol testing to the California Medical Board.
Now, for voters who didn’t know any better, they might assume that the hit-and-run driver who killed tender-aged Troy and Alana was a substance-abusing doctor. But nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the culprit was a 46-year-old nanny, Jimena Barreto, who was behind the wheel of her gold 1979 Mercedes when she careened across two lanes of a Danville street onto a sidewalk where she struck defenseless Troy and Alana.
Had the proposed ballot measure that bears their names been in place 11 years ago, it would have made no difference. It would not have prevented Barreto — convicted of second-degree murder and currently serving consecutive sentences of 15 years to life — from killing the Pack children.
So why is Bob Pack promoting a ballot measure in his dead children’s names that has absolutely nothing to do with them? Because he’s carrying water for the state’s trial lawyers.
Indeed, a provision of the so-called Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act would revise the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, the 1975 state law that limits jury awards to$250,000 for “pain and suffering” in cases of physician negligence.
The state’s trial lawyers regard a quarter-million dollars as a mere pittance. Especially when lawyers in other states are earning contingency fees on ginormous Powerball-sized jury awards.
Like the whopping $55 million that a Baltimore jury awarded a Waverly, Md., couple after delivery of their mentally and physically disabled child at Johns Hopkins hospital. The mother tried to have her baby at home with the help of a midwife but, after hours of labor, finally decided to have an emergency Caesarean section at the hospital.
Then there was the $78.5 million a Philadelphia jury awarded a Pottstown, Pa., mom whose newborn child sustained brain damage, her lawyers claimed, because the attending physician “performed an ultrasound examination with outdated, insensitive, and poorly maintained equipment.”
That’s why the state’s trial lawyers have invested $2 million — so far — in Bob Pack’s proposed initiative. It’s not about Troy and Alana, God rest their souls. It’s about raking in multi-million dollar contingency fees.
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