The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that a cap on non-economic medical malpractice damages is unconstitutional, striking down a 2005 law that capped damages at $350,000. The Court said that it violated an individual’s Constitutional right to trial by jury, saying that “the right to trial by jury… is not subject to legislative limits on damages.” According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the law was passed by Republicans and then-Governor Matt Blunt to control rising medical malpractice insurance rates. It has been argued that it did very little to reduce the costs of health care though, and has driven down the number of lawsuits dramatically.
The case the decision was based off stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the mother of a boy who was born with catastrophic brain injuries because of errors made by the medical staff. In the case, it was determined that a third-year med student didn’t do the proper testing when complications arose, and by the time an emergency C-section was performed, the baby had already suffered severe injuries from fetal hypoxia and acidosis. A jury awarded the family almost $5 million, which was then reduced under the 2005 law.
Missouri is not the only place where the state Supreme Court has found caps on non-economic damages unconstitutional, as it has also been found a violation in states like Alabama, Georgia, and Illinois. Florida currently has a cap on non-economic damages that amounts to $500,000 against practitioners and $750,000 against non-practitioners. The cap is doubled for situations where the victim dies or is left in a persistent vegetative state as a result of wrongdoing. There is currently a constitutional challenge in the Florida courts, and there is hope by man in the legal profession that Florida’s courts will come to the same conclusion as Missouri.
This ruling will help the citizens of Missouri to receive just compensation for injuries caused by the negligence or recklessness of another individual, company, or agency. One of the major problems with this type of legislation is that it sets a cap that is sometimes less than the amount of medical bills, leaving victims without the ability to pay for all of the healthcare costs related to the accident. If you were needlessly injured by a doctor or other medical professional, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To receive a free consultation, simply fill out the no-risk, no-obligation case review form on the right.