First 2022 state ballot measure qualifies in California

The first state ballot measure for 2022 qualified for the ballot in California on July 21, 2020.

The ballot initiative would increase California’s cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits based on changes in inflation since 1975, which is when the cap on noneconomic damages was enacted. In 2021, the damages cap of $250,000 would increase to around $1.2 million. Thereafter, the ballot measure would require an annual adjustment of the cap based on inflation. The ballot initiative would allow judges and juries to award damages above the cap for catastrophic injuries.

The Fairness for Injured Patients Act Coalition, which is the campaign behind the ballot measure, originally sought to place the citizen-initiated measure on the ballot for November 3, 2020. Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court, whose organization supports the ballot initiative, said the decision to delay filing signatures was due to the coronavirus pandemic. He stated, “This has been a really tough decision, but it’s really foggy out there now, with all the concern about the coronavirus. No one really knows how that will affect the November elections. … The medical negligence cap hasn’t changed in 45 years. We didn’t want to blow our chance.”

The Fairness for Injured Patients Act Coalition filed 910,667 signatures, and the secretary of state’s office projected that 75.56 percent (around 688,010) of them were valid. At least 623,212 of the signatures needed to be valid.

Two PACs—Fairness for Injured Patients Act Coalition and Consumer Watchdog Campaign for the Fairness for Injured Patients Act—were registered to support the ballot initiative. The committees have raised $4.78 million, including $3.65 million from attorney Nicolas Rowley. The Californians to Protect Patients and Contain Health Care Costs PAC was registered to oppose the ballot initiative. The committee has raised $18.32 million, including $9.80 million from The Doctors Company.

In 2014, Consumer Watchdog worked on a similar ballot initiative, titled Proposition 46, which was defeated. Proposition 46 would have increased the cap on noneconomic damages from $250,000 to $1.00 million and required drug and alcohol testing of doctors.

Two other California ballot initiative campaigns are currently collecting signatures to get their proposals on the 2022 general election ballot. Both of the campaigns originally wanted their measures on the 2020 ballot but changed course due to the coronavirus pandemic and related stay-at-home orders. Court orders granted both of the campaigns additional time to collect signatures.

Signatures are due on September 28, 2020, for a 2022 initiative to adopt regulations that reduce the use of product packaging, single-use packaging, and single-use dishes and utensils.

Signatures are due on October 12, 2020, for a 2022 initiative to legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California.

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