Missouri Supreme Court Considering Challenge to Malpractice Cap

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A case before the Missouri Supreme Court the week of March 26 could result in the overturning of a 2005 state law that limits the amount victims of medical malpractice can be compensated. The case involves a 5-year-old child who was awarded $4.8 million at trial last year after jurors determined that doctors caused his “catastrophic and disabling brain injuries” that will leave him with the mental capacity of a 3-year-old for life.

The judge immediately reduced the non-economic damages portion of that verdict from $1.45 million to $350,000 due to the law, which limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice.

The mother of the child appealed the verdict on the grounds that the statute violated her right to trial by jury by removing jurors’ authority to determine damages. The case has reached the Missouri Supreme Court, which was scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 27.

In the underlying case, the injured plaintiff was born in November 2006 in Springfield. He was born with brain damage and cerebral palsy, and his mother later sued her physicians, accusing them of missing signs of distress during her pregnancy.

The challenge to the medical malpractice cap has drawn the attention of several groups that have filed amicus briefs in the case. They include the Missouri AFL-CIO and the Missouri Coalition for Quality Care, both of which agree with the plaintiff that the cap is unconstitutional. Business and medical industry groups such as the state Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical Association argue that the law should not be overturned.

Source: Springfield News-Leader, “Cap on malpractice awards challenged in state Supreme Court,” Jess Rollins, March 27, 2012

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