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Initiative To Reform Calif. Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Qualifies For Ballot

SANTA MONICA ( — A wide-ranging initiative that would dramatically alter medical malpractice lawsuits in California has qualified for the November ballot, officials said Friday.

More than 840,000 voter signatures from consumer advocates and alleged victims of medical negligence were turned in to qualify the ballot measure known by supporters as the "Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act", or Pack Act, according to the Secretary of State's office.

Launched by technology entrepreneur Bob Pack - whose children, Troy and Alana, were killed in an accident caused by a drug addict who had been recklessly prescribed thousands of narcotic painkillers - the initiative includes raising the limit on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and requiring random drug and alcohol testing of doctors.

Valid signatures from 504,760 registered voters — 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 general election — were required to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

If approved by voters, the Pack Act would adjust for inflation the $250,000 limit for pain and suffering damages in medical negligence lawsuits that has been law since 1975, a move that could increase the limit to upwards of $1.1 million, according to inflation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"California voters have taken the first step in making sure that more families like mine don't have to experience the pain of losing a child due to dangerous medicine," said Pack.

Opponents of the Pack Act have reportedly already raised $34 million to defeat the initiative, which would result in higher malpractice costs for state and local governments ranging from the low tens of millions of dollars to potentially more than $100 million annually, according to an analysis prepared by the Legislative Analyst's Office and Department of Finance.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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