In Memoriam: James E. Ludlam, 1914-2008

In Memoriam: James E. Ludlam, 1914-2008


James E. Ludlam, who joined Musick, Peeler & Garrett in 1940, passed away August 12, 2008. He was a pioneer in the field of health law in both California and the nation, and was regarded by his peers throughout the country as the dean of healthcare lawyers.  He graduated from Stanford University in 1936 and from Harvard Law School in 1939.  He specialized in health law from the time he commenced practice in 1940:  his first assignment out of law school was the handling of a complex tax matter for what is now Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. 

In the forties, Mr. Ludlam was the leader in efforts to establish the tax-exempt status of nonprofit hospitals, which led to a state constitutional amendment and legislation to grant property tax exemption. In the fifties, he was involved in the explosive expansion of the hospital system and, as legal counsel to the California Hospital Association (CHA) from 1953 on, was involved in the design and implementation of health facility planning legislation.

In the sixties, Mr. Ludlam represented California hospitals in their efforts to secure passage of legislation to implement the Medicare and Medicaid programs, as well as the passage of legislation that gave indigent patients access to mainstream medicine. In the seventies, he was the leader in the enactment of tort reform in the passage of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act--one of the most comprehensive malpractice liability reform statutes in the country-- and  continued to lead the successful fight to assure the constitutionality of all its major provisions and its role as a model for the nation.

Throughout the eighties and into the nineties, Mr. Ludlam was active in the creation of major healthcare systems, primarily in the nonprofit hospital area, to meet the pressures of competition. These include the Associated Hospitals Systems in 1982, which merged with United Health Care in 1984 as American Health Care Systems, and the American Health Care Institute, comprising thirty-five of the leading nonprofit healthcare systems throughout the United States.

Mr. Ludlam was an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Hospital Administrators and the American College of Legal Medicine and he received the highest service awards of both the American Hospital Association (AHA) and CHA. He was also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. In 1985 he served as an AHA representative on the American Medical Association/American Hospital Association Joint Task Force on Hospital-Medical Staff Relationships. In 1989, he negotiated the merger of the Lutheran Hospital Society of Southern California with Health West Foundation into Unihealth America, a major non-profit health system.

Mr. Ludlam continued to work on healthcare policy until about a month before he died, serving on the boards of the Good Hope Medical Foundation, the House Ear Institute and the National Health Foundation.  

Musick, Peeler & Garrett LLP will miss Mr. Ludlam greatly.