January 27, 2004

Senate President's Wife Sues Eye Doctor While He Pushes Award Caps

(FRANKFORT, Ky., January 27th, 2004, 10:30 a.m.) -- The wife of Senate President David Williams is suing an eye doctor, while her husband pushes for caps on medical malpractice awards.

Robyn Williams claims that eye surgery performed by an ophthalmologist, Dr. Thomas Abell, damaged her vision. She is seeking unspecified non-economic damages, including pain and suffering -- the sorts of claims her husband wants to limit with a constitutional amendment.

The lawsuit was filed in Taylor County Circuit Court on Oct. 25, 2002; the Williamses were married last July. A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 25. Abell's attorney, Clayton Robinson of Lexington, said his client "did everything appropriately in her case."

David Williams, a Burkesville Republican, sponsored an amendment proposal that passed the Kentucky Senate on Jan. 15.

If the proposed amendment is passed by the House, then ratified by voters in November, the General Assembly next year would have the power to enact caps on noneconomic damages and create an arbitration system for malpractice claims.

Supporters of limiting awards say caps would help control increases in malpractice insurance premiums paid by doctors. But opponents point to studies that say limits on damages have no effect on premiums.

David Williams said Monday that he hasn't read the lawsuit or spoken to his wife's lawyer about it. He said the lawsuit doesn't contradict his legislation.

"All lawyers operate under the law that's in effect," he said. "I would think her lawyer would be guilty of malpractice himself if he didn't proceed under the laws that would avail her of any relief to which she is entitled."

Robyn Williams said Monday that Abell performed refractive surgery on her in 1992 or 1993, plus two follow-up procedures.

Refractive surgeries are supposed to correct vision problems caused by the shape of the eye.

Williams said she did not file a lawsuit against Abell until she learned during an eye exam in January 2002 that she had been injured.

She also said she has problems "every waking hour" with her vision.

"I have done what I think is right under the law," she said. "David's interests lie with what's best for Kentuckians. I am proud of that."

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Posted by Admin at January 27, 2004 10:46 AM