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February 20, 1991

Awarding of Legal Fees as Penalty for Unwanted Treatment

Author Affiliations

The Cleveland (Ohio) Clinic Foundation

The Cleveland (Ohio) Clinic Foundation

JAMA. 1991;265(7):867. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460070049029

To the Editor. —  Weir and Gostin's1 comprehensive view of the post-Cruzan world omitted a factor that ought to weigh in the minds of physicians, administrators, and institutional lawyers who prefer seeking a court's judgment to exercising their own. In California,2 Florida,3 and Rhode Island,4 state and federal courts have awarded counsel fees to patients who prevail in securing protection of the civil right to be free of unwanted or unwarranted treatment.One wonders how those involved in providing health care will feel about being ordered to pay a patient's legal bill and whether that prospect can have a prophylactic effect on the problems Weir and Gostin so ably identified.