Major Consumer Protection Bills to Require Doctors on Probation to Notify Patients and Contractors to Report $1M+ Settlements in Building Defect Cases Face First Legislative Hurdle Monday

April 20, 2018

Media Advisory – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – April 20, 2018

Major Consumer Protection Bills to Require Doctors on Probation to Notify Patients and Contractors to Report $1M+ Settlements in Building Defect Cases Face First Legislative Hurdle Monday

Senate Business and Professions Committee Holds Hearings on Senator Jerry Hill’s SB 1448: The Patient’s Right to Know Act and SB 1465, the Settlement Reporting Bill Triggered by the Berkeley Balcony Tragedy

SACRAMENTO – Bills by Senator Jerry Hill to toughen regulatory oversight of doctors and building contractors and increase disclosure requirements to protect patients and the public undergo their first legislative review Monday in hearings held by the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development.

WHAT: First Hearings for SB 1448: The Patient’s Right to Know Act and SB 1465 on Contractors’ Settlement Reporting

WHEN: 1 p.m. or Upon Adjournment of Senate Floor Session
Monday, April 23, 2018
(SB 1448 and SB 1465 are items 9 and 10 on the agenda)

WHERE: Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development
State Capitol, Room 3191
Sacramento, CA 95814

WHO: Witnesses expected to testify Monday:

  • Jackie Donohoe of Rohnert Park, whose daughter, Ashley, 22, and niece, Olivia Burke, 21 of Ireland, were among the six young people who died when the fifth-story balcony of a Berkeley apartment building collapsed in June 2015. Seven others were serious injured in the collapse whose aftermath has been closely watched in the U.S. and Ireland. All of the victims and survivors are of Irish descent and all but one were visiting from Ireland.
  • A San Diego woman who seeks a trial of her lawsuit against her doctor for alleged sexual battery, medical negligence, sexual harassment and elder abuse during medical appointments. The doctor surrendered his licenses to practice in California and New York last year after California regulators filed documents accusing him of sexual and professional misconduct allegedly involving nine patients.

Audio Opportunity: Olympians and other star athletes who have spoken in support of SB 1448: The Patient’s Right to Know Act may be available for media interviews by phone before and after Monday. Media inquiries to leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov will be forwarded to their representative. Please use subject line reading: SB 1448 Query.

BACKGROUND

Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018

SB 1448 would make California the first state to require that doctors on probation in connection with cases of wrongdoing, including sexual misconduct, notify their patients of that status and disclose basic details of their terms of probation and any conditions placed on their practice. The requirement would apply to physicians, surgeons, osteopaths, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, podiatrists and acupuncturists who are placed on administrative probation by regulators on or after July 1, 2019.

Doctors are already required to report their probationary status to their insurers and to hospitals and clinics they work with. Patients are not informed. Their only way of knowing requires them to take the initiative to periodically check on their doctor’s license status -- provided they have a computer and internet access and sift through any legal documents available online.

Contractor Settlement Reporting

Crafted with help from the Contractors State License Board, SB 1465 would require contractors to report to the CSLB any settlement of $1 million or more that is finalized on or after January 1, 2019, in construction defect cases that involve multifamily rental residential units. Contractors would be required to report the settlement within 90 days of being notified of final judgment. Insurers would be required to file a similar report to the CSLB within 30 days of making some or all of the payout in such cases. The CSLB would treat the reports with the same discretion it affords to complaints against licensees. Such matters do not become public unless the board pursues disciplinary or enforcement actions.

Architects, engineers and land surveyors are already required to make similar reports to their licensing agencies. When the apartment balcony collapsed in Berkeley, killing six people and seriously injuring seven, state regulators were unaware that builder Segue Construction had paid out $26.5 million in settlements of construction defect cases in the three years before the balcony gave way.

The Push for Reforms

Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties introduced the bills to increase patient protection and general safety for the public this month. While the legislative vehicles, SB 1448 and SB 1465 are new, the bills mark the third and second attempts, respectively, by the senator to establish stricter disclosure requirements for physicians and building contractors.

Both have met heavy opposition from organizations representing those professions.

“Thanks to the courage of survivors of sexual abuse and misconduct by professionals in positions of trust or authority, we are finally acknowledging as a society that silence and secrecy only protects predators,” said Senator Hill. “In the case of the medical profession, this practice leaves patients in the dark and vulnerable to abuse. It is time to break the silence and protect patients. We can do that in California with SB 1448: The Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018.”

Olympian gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzscher, former US national gymnastics team member Jeanette Antolin and star athlete Tiffany Thomas Lopez, who played softball for Michigan State University, spoke in support of SB 1448 earlier this month. Their testimony in the case of Larry Nassar helped bring the disgraced doctor to justice.

Here’s what Ms. Wieber, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, said about SB 1448 at a news conference in the Capitol on April 9. “My mom is a nurse and I was raised to respect and trust doctors – we all are and almost every doctor deserves that trust. But when they don’t, the results can be devastating. Not one state requires doctors on probation to give their patients notice…California can and should be the first.”

See video of the news conference on SB 1448: https://youtu.be/S38X2-66rko

SB 1465 stemmed from efforts by Senators Hill and Loni Hancock, who represented Berkeley, to establish reporting requirements for contractors who make settlements in civil cases alleging professional misconduct including fraud, negligence and recklessness. Amid pushback from the industry, the authors amended their legislation, SB 465 (2015-2016), to instead direct the Contractors State License Board to study the issue. This year’s SB 1465 grew out of the CSLB study.

Since the collapse of the balcony that killed her daughter and her niece, Jackie Donohoe has been a dauntless advocate to require contractors to report the legal settlements they make in construction defect cases. She has appeared at legislative hearings and commission, board and city council meetings to urge reforms. “It’s time to end these secret settlements,” she said.

Senator Hill and the Consul General of Ireland and his representatives, also strong supporters of the proposed reforms, have praised Mrs. Donohoe for her efforts.

“We could not have come this far without Jackie Donohoe’s strength in the face of tragedy and her commitment to preventing other families from suffering the devastating loss of loved ones in preventable accidents resulting from construction defects,” said Senator Hill.

Resources:

SB 1448 Updated Fact Sheet:
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/factsheet_sb1448_updated_042018.pdf

SB 1448 Text:
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1448

SB 1465 Fact Sheet
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/sb1465_factsheet_settlementreporting.pdf

SB 1465 Text:
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1465

More Background, Legislative History on Both Bills

Media Advisory: SB 1448: The Patient’s Right to Know Act of 2018 Introduced:
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/news/2018-04-06-olympians-other-former-star-athletes-join-women-abuse-cases-pending-against-doctors

News Release: SB 1465 Introduced:
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/news/2018-04-17-new-bill-senator-hill-would-require-contractors-report-settlements-1m-or-more

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov

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