Vital Times 2020 - 106

escalation. The leadership role anesthesiologists and
the CSA played in sacrificing time and money and
participating in the efforts, enhanced their status
and reputation. "
Governor " Jerry " Brown, then in his first year in
office and initially dismissive of the concerns of
" rich doctors, " eventually felt the enormous pressure
behind the State's physician leaders, and on May 16
called for a special session of the Legislature to deal
specifically with the malpractice insurance crisis.
Bill Barnaby Sr., Esq., longtime CSA Legal Counsel
and lobbyist, later wrote: " The Physicians Crisis
Committee selected Charles O'Brien as their counsel,
both for his political clout and the legal acumen
demonstrated during nearly 10 years as California's
Chief Deputy Attorney General. A tumultuous special

William E. Barnaby, Sr., and William E. Barnaby III

106 |

CSA Vital Times

legislative session produced the Medical Injury
Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) in the form of
AB 1XX, authored by Democratic Assembly Health
Committee Chairman Barry Keene. Final passage
was on a bipartisan vote over the opposition of
Democratic Assembly Speaker Leo T. McCarthy,
who wanted the bill sent to a conference committee
for additional refinement. Tremendous pressure
was brought to bear on the new Governor, Jerry
Brown, to veto the bill. Damage limits, such as the
$250,000 'cap' on non-economic damages in AB 1XX,
were constitutionally suspect. The California Trial
Lawyers Association held great sway in those days,
and they had friends in high Administration office.
In that heated milieu, the credibility of Charles
O'Brien with Gov. Jerry Brown stood the pro-MICRA
coalition in good stead. Brown signed MICRA into
law, an action he proudly cites to this day. "
Over the past 45 years, MICRA has withstood judicial
challenges on constitutional grounds and lawyer
lobbying efforts, including public ballot initiatives,
to overturn or weaken its provisions. The law is
frequently held up in national discussions as a model
of tort reform and a fair and reasonable example for
containing escalating costs associated with medical
care. As with many historical events that come to
be known as " times of crisis, " these events of 1975
caused many lasting and profound changes. These
were not only changes in the law and the fundamental
nature of the medical liability insurance industry in
California. The anesthesiologists who were there to
experience it firsthand say that they changed the very
nature of the physician's place in the fabric of society,
their role in patient and public advocacy, and for a
few, set them on a lifelong path as leaders of
our profession.



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