Possible Supreme Court Nominee Charles Canady Stands Up for Patients’ and Physicians’ Rights

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The right to contract is fundamental, and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) applauds the strong defense of that right by Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady. He is on the list of candidates being considered by President-elect Donald Trump for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Canady properly dissented from a decision by the Florida Supreme Court on December 22, which invalidated a contractual agreement for dispute resolution that had been entered into by an adult patient with a medical group. See Hernandez v. Crespo, No. SC15-67. While the court majority paid lip service in respect of the right to enter into private contracts, the court then invalidated the contract as void and unenforceable based on issues like the parties agreeing to share arbitration costs equally.

The court majority declared it to be somehow against public policy for a physician and a patient to agree to bear equally the costs of arbitration for dispute resolution. Instead, the court ruled that physicians must pay the lion’s share of those costs.

“Out-of-control medical expenses are exacerbated by one-sided incentives that trial attorneys have for bringing frivolous malpractice cases,” observes Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director of AAPS. “Patients should have the right to contract with physicians and agree that dispute resolution costs be borne equally,” she added.

The Florida legislature had passed its Medical Malpractice Act to encourage use of arbitration to help limit the costs. “Consenting adults should be allowed to do as the legislature encouraged, by entering into private agreements to reduce expenses in malpractice cases,” states Andrew Schlafly, General Counsel of AAPS.

In a compelling dissent, Florida Supreme Court Justice Canady criticized the illogical irony of the majority’s ruling. “Nothing in the Medical Malpractice Act can be read to support the conclusion that the purpose of the statute is thwarted by voluntary pre-dispute agreements … designed to limit the cost of litigation and the amount of paid claims. Instead, such voluntary agreements are designed to cure the same mischief that the statute seeks to address,” Justice Canady astutely wrote.

Justice Canady was recently endorsed by approximately 85 organizations, including AAPS, for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by President-elect Trump. Unlike other candidates, Justice Canady has experience that includes service in both a state legislature and in Congress. Justice Canady would be the first native Floridian to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in virtually all specialties and every state. Founded in 1943, AAPS has the motto “omnia pro aegroto,” which means “all for the patient.”

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