According to the Palm Beach Post, the Florida Supreme Court has let stand a $10.3 million verdict awarded to the widow of a man who died due to medical malpractice. Although a 2003 Florida law passed by the State Legislature capped jury awards in medical malpractice claims, the high court ruled that the award was legal because the injury occurred before the law was passed. The 2002 Florida medical malpractice law stated that a claim shall proceed to trial “without limitations on damages” if the defendant refuses a claimant’s offer of voluntary binding arbitration.
In April of 2003, emergency room physician Dr. James Schecter worked on Harvey Raphael, who was admitted after having a heart attack. Schecter reportedly failed to prescribe Retavase, an anti-clotting drug, to reduce the stress on the heart after the heart attack. A different doctor prescribed the drug an hour later, but significant damage to the heart had already been done, according to allegations. Raphael died from an unsuccessful heart transplant surgery in 2006, leaving Nadine Raphael a widow.
Dr. Schecter’s attorneys argued that the award should be capped at $1 million because the lawsuit was filed two years after the Legislature in 2003 imposed the caps. The Fourth District Court of Appeals, like the Florida Supreme Court, ruled that the award should stand because “retrospective laws are generally unjust.” This verdict has implications for the Florida medical malpractice cap in general, as attorneys believe that this creates fertile ground for the caps to be removed completely. The Florida Supreme Court is to begin a case in February that argues against the caps for pain and suffering at $150,000 per person and $300,000 total.
If you or a loved has been injured due to the error of a medical practitioner, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Medical malpractice is a serious offense, and it is important to acquire the experienced legal representation to hold medical professionals accountable for their actions.