James Ludlam, a pioneer in the practice of healthcare lawthe first and so far only lawyer to be inducted into Modern Healthcares Health Care Hall of Famedied Aug. 12 at the age of 93 in Pasadena, Calif.
Health law pioneer dies
Ludlam helped in definitive case on tax exemption
He was a health lawyer when there werent health lawyers, said Ludlams colleague and friend Dennis Purtell, an attorney with Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek in Milwaukee who followed Ludlam as an early leader of a precursor to the American Health Lawyers Association.
Born in 1914, Ludlam joined the law firm now called Musick, Peeler & Garrett in 1940 in Los Angeles after graduating from Harvard Law School. On the day he was admitted to the California Bar Association he was dispatched to help a Long Beach hospital, which was pro bono work typically passed off on the firms young and inexperienced lawyers.
The hospitals dispute over unemployment benefits grew into a case defining the basis of tax-exemption for hospitals, winding up to the California Supreme Court while Ludlam was in the Navy during World War II.
In his account of those early days in a 1998 book, Health Policythe Hard Way, he pointed out that few not-for-profit hospitals retained or needed outside counsel, and thin accounting of charity care made it difficult for hospitals to make their case. It was truly a cottage industry, he wrote.
That early experience rendered Ludlam one of few experts on the legal peculiarities of hospitals, and he remained with the firm for his entire career, during which he served as general counsel to the California Hospital Association, the Hospital Association of Southern California and Blue Cross of Southern California.
In the 1970s, he worked closely with the California Legislature and then-Gov. Jerry Brown to craft the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, ending a crisis of skyrocketing medical liability insurance rates. Peter Leibold, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the AHLA, said Ludlam provided the intellectual underpinning of that legislation, which became a national model for tort reform.
In 1967, Ludlam was among four lawyers who founded the American Society of Hospital Attorneys, a precursor of the 10,000-member AHLA formed within the American Hospital Association. Our niche, our place for health law is really built on the shoulders of guys like Jim Ludlam, but specifically Jim Ludlam, Leibold said. Its really true. Its not fluff.
Charles Ludlam, one of Ludlams two sons, said his father was self-effacing and modest and never let his ego get in the waythe only way possible to represent both hospitals and insurers.
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