Airplane against orange colored sky

In May 2016, Lewis Christman was flying from Chicago to Rome when he suffered a bout of acute pancreatitis. He curled into a fetal position on the floor. He spent the next seven hours in agony while the plane flew on. The next three months, he spent in hospitals.

This month, Christman sued, accusing United Continental Holdings Inc. of ignoring a recommendation from a doctor on board to divert the flight and failing to contact medical consultants on the ground. It was another round of bad publicity for United and one that draws scrutiny to how U.S. air carriers treat passengers in distress and the pressure to keep flights in the air.

The Complaint, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, alleges that United Airlines Inc. negligently, carelessly and improperly breached its duty of care by its failure to immediately land the aircraft despite Mr. Christman's acute medical attack. As a direct result, Mr. Christman suffered severe injuries during a flight from Chicago O'Hare International Airport to Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, on May 21, 2016.

Tort reform is an issue that generates strong emotions. Those who support it - primarily hospitals, physicians groups and insurance companies - claim that by limiting compensation for medical malpractice and personal injury claims we can lower the cost of medical care and health insurance, while also reducing the number of “frivolous” lawsuits, saving the court time and money.

Those assertions are patently FALSE.

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