Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum’s wife Karen Santorum won a medical malpractice lawsuit in Virginia against a chiropractor who negligently performed a lumbar manipulation on her which caused several lumbar discs to herniate. She required emergent surgery to her back as a result. The jury awarded $350,000 to Mrs. Santorum for her medical expenses and pain and suffering loses. The case was well handled by the Virginia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania attorneys who represented the plaintiffs in a particularly difficult negligence claim. This writer has first-hand experience with “manipulation malpractice” cases and was successful in one of the only other cases in the United States against an osteopath for an unwarranted and unnecessary cervical manipulation and knows first hand how difficult these cases can be. Read the facts of our case here.
The troubling part of the case is certainly not the outcome but on whose behalf it was brought. Rick Santorum is running on a platform of tort reform unrivaled by any of the other candidates. In essence, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth both professional and personally. First, he argues in favor of a free market economy with little or no governmental oversight on private business and enterprise yet he vigorously advocates for governmental limits on the rights of common citizens to decide the amount of damages to award in civil cases. Second, what’s good for the public is obviously not good enough for Mr. Santorum’s own family, since his wife and her attorneys argued that Virginia’s malpractice tort reform should not apply to her case. Now, granted, her case arose in 1996 and arguably the reform laws were not fully in place at that time. So, legally, she should have argued against application of the reforms since they technically didn’t apply to her case. Yet, it leaves us all wondering whether Mr. Santorum is a hypocrite solely by virtue of his family’s resort to the legal system to sue a physician at all. He seems to be against that too.
We congratulate Mrs. Santorum’s attorneys for a job well done and hope Mr. Santorum comes to realize that the American system of justice is just fine without governmental limits on jury awards.