The Baltimore Sun

Malpractice rollback a windfall for lawyers

At a time when the nation's economy is slumping and the governor is proposing to mandate that Maryland hospitals and physicians provide more free care to lower-income families, it's ironic that the state House Judiciary Committee, led by trial lawyer Joseph F. Vallario Jr., is proposing legislation to roll back the reforms in the state's medical malpractice insurance policies enacted in 2004 ("Attack of the trial lawyers," editorial, Feb. 17).

Such a rollback would ultimately result in higher malpractice insurance rates for doctors and hospitals, higher health care costs for consumers, higher health insurance premiums for businesses and, of course, higher incomes for well-heeled trial lawyers.

Perhaps the "attack" of these lawyers on physicians and hospitals will only abate when enough doctors have left Maryland and enough hospitals have closed that they no longer have anyone left to sue.

Dr. Mark Haas, Timonium

Past time to ban wind-blown bags

Last week's windstorm created a familiar sight here in Maryland: plastic shopping bags caught in the branches of bare winter trees.

When will we in Maryland - and people across the nation, for that matter - realize the harm every plastic shopping bag we carry out of a place of business can do?

If these bags were outlawed, or consumers were charged 5 cents per bag, perhaps we all might get into the habit of carrying reusable bags wherever we go. This is a habit that the sea mammals who die ingesting plastic bags would celebrate, and so would I.

David McMaster, Baltimore

Hartman led leaders through thickets of law

Frederick N. Rasmussen's obituary for Ambrose Thomas "Andy" Hartman captured the heart and persona of an unsung hero, not only of World War II but also of the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland ("Ambrose T. Hartman," Feb. 16).

Although Mr. Hartman was a lifelong Democrat, Republican governor and Baltimore Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin, were he alive today, would attest to the fact that he was an indispensable bedrock of sound legal judgment upon which mayors, governors and others relied to govern and execute the law.

Mr. Hartman may have been "always a bridesmaid, never a bride," but any department he served as an assistant or deputy functioned with professionalism and integrity.

He was a lawyer's lawyer. He had gravitas and a sense of humor, and he was always soundly grounded in the thickets of the law.

This made him a role model for the legal profession.

As a fellow World War II veteran and a Republican who served with him from time to time in city and state government, I join in saluting Mr. Hartman.

Samuel A. Culotta, Baltimore

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