mal" negotiations resume
Former Chief Judge Donald P. O'Connell
of the Cook County Circuit Court has been appointed to serve as
mediator in the stalled negotiations over medical malpractice reform
Judge O'Connell is considered a leading
mediator in Illinois. He was recognized by Chicago Lawyer Magazine
for most consecutive years as the leading judge for settlements of
significant injury and wrongful death cases.
Negotiations over medical malpractice
broke down in July. Discussions between all interested parties began
early in the year with a list of more than 50 areas of disagreement.
By the final weeks of the overtime spring legislative session, two
issues kept the parties apart -- personal asset protection for
doctors and protection for hospitals against claims arising from
actions by contractual doctors who practice at their facilities.
Lawmakers left Springfield in mid-July without a resolution on
medical malpractice reform.
Since 2001, O'Connell has served as
special counsel to the University of Illinois hospital system, where
he advises executives on medical negligence issues. He will complete
his service with the U of I this month. In addition, he conducts
private mediations in catastrophic injury, wrongful death and
commercial cases, and continues to conduct conferences on successful
mediation techniques and strategies in complex areas like medical
I was pleased to work with Dr. Tom
Pliura, a physician from LeRoy, to initiate the medical malpractice
discussion last year. Pliura organized a demonstration by Illinois
doctors in Springfield on Feb. 26, 2003, to raise public awareness
of the medical liability insurance crisis that is driving physicians
and hospitals out of business and leaving Illinois citizens with
fewer health care options.
[to top of second column in
Education law has nothing for
The so-called education reform
legislation signed into law last week is nothing more than window
dressing and has no meaningful changes to help the schoolchildren of
I initially supported the legislation,
but on May 18 I asked to be removed as a sponsor when I saw the
direction that the legislation was heading.
Senate Bill 3000 does not address funding inequity among
schools, poor educational performance, reducing state mandates and
regulations on local schools, or the future role of regional
superintendents throughout the state.
What the new law does is terminate
seven of the nine current members of the State Board of Education
and allow the governor to appoint new members, which he will then be
allowed to terminate at his discretion for stated reasons of
incompetence, malfeasance and neglect of duty.
During the almost 12 years that I have
served in Springfield, we have done nothing but pass the buck when
it comes to our state's greatest resource -- our children. We need
to take responsibility, which is why I stood at press conferences
with the governor when he first introduced this piece of legislation
after his State of the State address in January. When the governor
first came forward with his proposal, he wanted to reform and change
Now I stand
in strong opposition to this new law because it has been watered
down for political reasons. This new law does nothing. The Illinois
Lottery looks like it does more for education than this new law.
Sen. Bill Brady,