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Rick Santorum’s Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Santorum has often called for limits medical malpractice lawsuits, but back in 1999, his wife Karen sued her chiropractor $500,000 for allegedly injuring her back.  Santorum testified in the case, telling the jury that the injury caused his wife pain and impaired her ability to campaign for him.

She “likes to be fit,” Santorum told the jury, according to an December 1999 article in Roll Call.  “We have to go out and do a lot of public things. She wants to look nice, so it’s really difficult.”

He and his wife, he said, “knocked on 20,000 doors together” during his last campaign, but now she “doesn’t have the confidence to do that.”

In addition to the pain and suffering of his wife, the injury forced the senator to do more work around the house.

“When I get home at night -- and I have long hours -- she’s exhausted. I have to do more stuff around the house -- which I am happy to do,” Santorum testified.

The problem started when Mrs. Santorum visited chiropractor Dr. David Dolberg to treat her sore back shortly after she lost her newborn son Gabriel.  According to the lawsuit, Dr. Dolberg made the problem worse by causing a herniated disk. Eventually Mrs. Santorum had surgery to fix the problem.

The jury awarded Mrs. Santorum $350,000 (although the award was later reduced to $175,000).

At the time, Democrat James Carville called Santorum “a world class hypocrite” because while his wife sued for $500,000, he had co-sponsored a bill limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 in non-economic damages.

And although Santorum testified in his wife’s case, he told ABC’s Primetime in 2005 that he doesn’t always agree with his wife.

“Of course I’m going to support my wife in her endeavors,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with everything that she does.”

And he said his support for malpractice caps of $250,000 was not set in stone.

“Number one is that I’ve supported caps. I’ve been very clear that I am not wedded at all to a $250,000 cap and I’ve said publicly repeatedly, and I think probably that is somewhat low, and that we need to look at what I think is a cap that is a little bit higher than that,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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