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Court of appeals upholds the “cap” on damages in medical malpractice cases

Published on Jan 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm in General Blogs.

Today, the Court of Appeals issued its decision in the case of Lockshin v.Semsker, a medical malpractice case tried in Montgomery County. The plaintiffs, who were awarded $5,805,000.00 for the death of Mr. Semsker from malignant melanoma, had argued that the portion of that award which was for non-economic damages (commonly known as “pain and suffering”) should not be reduced to the statutory cap of $812,500.00 The basis of this argument not to reduce was that the law that governs medical malpractice cases does not specifically state that a case in which the parties waive arbitration is subject to the cap. The trial judge agreed and refused to cut that portion of the award. The defendant physician appealed that decision.

Maryland’s highest court agreed with the physician, holding that the damages cap found in Section 3-2A-09(b) does in fact apply to all medical malpractice actions, whether arbitration was waived in the case or not. The Court looked at the “plain meaning” of the statute and examined the legislative history when reaching its decision.

Of further interest in the Semsker case, the medical expenses incurred in that case were over $415,000.00 Mr. Semsker’s health insurer paid all but $80,000.00 of that total and the rest of the balance was written off. The Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether the jurors in medical malpractice cases should be presented with evidence of the total medical bills, or only that amount which was paid by insurance. The Court held that the total amount should be presented to the jury, and after the trial, pursuant to Section 3-2A-09 (d)(1), the trial judge will then reduce the amount of the award consistent with the amounts paid by or on behalf of the Plaintiff.

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the attorneys at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz for a free consultation. We fight for patients and their families to ensure they get the compensation they deserve.

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