Caps on Non-Economic Damages

Published on Jul 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm in General Blogs.

While the march to limit non-economic damages continues almost unabated with two more state supreme courts ruling in favor of caps, one state circuit court has thrown down the gauntlet with a spunky defense of judicial independence.

Missouri and Louisiana can now be added to the vast majority of states adopting damage caps in medical malpractice cases.

Missouri State Supreme Court ruled that the state’s cap on non-economic damages is constitutional on April 13. In that case, a jury award of $9.2 million was reduced to $1.2 million. But, Sanders v. Ahmed, only applies to older cases. A second case winding its way through the court system, Watts v. Cox, impacts all medical liability lawsuits starting in 2005. A decision in Watts is expected this summer.

Louisiana’s state supreme court upheld the cap in a decision released on March 13, 2012. In that case, a $6 million jury award was reduced to $500,000.

But, a Mississippi circuit court came down squarely against legislatively-mandated caps in April. In Carter v. Interstate Realty Management Company, a premises liability case, the court said, “This court shall not surrender the keys to the courtroom – nor any power delegated to the judicial department of government – to the legislative branch through legislative enactment.”

However, Mississippi’s top court could come to a different conclusion in Sears v. Learmouth, a case that has been under its consideration for several months.

Waiting Decisions

More decisions on medical malpractice caps could be released any day now.Indiana’s Supreme Court heard arguments on May 3 inPlank v. Community Hospital.Florida’s Supreme Court heard arguments on February 9 in Estate of McCall v.United States(seeNov. 19, 2011blog entry). A decision in that case has not yet been released.

Caps on noneconomic damages means that juries in many states no longer have the last word in awarding what they believe is just compensation for emotional distress and other losses such as loss of the enjoyment of life that an injury has caused, physical impairment and loss of a loved one.

Damage caps in medical malpractice cases are unfair and are contrary to the free market system so fervently embraced by the same hypocrites who promote passage of such laws.Juries should be allowed to do their jobs and reach the verdicts they believe are just. Judges have the authority to “right the wrong” ofrunaway jury verdicts through post-trial motions and and new trial orders.

The attorneys at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz frequently resolve cases where the various caps on non economic loss come into play.We continue to fight for the rights of our clients to ensure they receive equal justice under the law. Should you have any questions about the firm or any information on our website, please contact our office by clicking here or by calling (410) 234-0100.



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