The Florida Supreme Court recently issued a very favorable ruling in
medical malpractice cases.
Florida Supreme Court Removes Some Caps in Medical Malpractice Cases
Many of you may remember the “Medical Malpractice Crisis” that
dominated the news and political landscape a decade ago. If you believed
all the hype, you were one of the many who actually thought that all of
the good doctors were fleeing the State. In response to this “crisis”,
Florida lawmakers passed Florida Statute § 766.118, which essentially
limited the amount of money damages that one could collect for the negligence
of a medical doctor or practitioner.
More specifically, the law limited non-economic damages to $500,000 per
claimant. Non-economic damages differ from economic damages in that unlike
economic damages which include medical bills, lost wages etc., non-economic
damages refer to pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish,
loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life, and similar losses.
On March 13, 2014 however, in the case of McCall v. United States, the
Florida Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that the cap on noneconomic
damages in medical malpractice lawsuits involving wrongful death, violated
the right to equal protection guaranteed by the Florida Constitution,
which ensures that everyone is entitled to stand before the law on equal
terms and enjoys the same rights and bears the same burden as others in
a like situation.
Justice Fred R. Lewis, writing the opinion for the Court, stated that the
damages cap provision of the statute violated the equal protection clause
of the Florida Constitution by discriminating against “those who
are most grievously injured, those who sustained the greatest damage and
loss, and multiple claimants”, and pointed out that the argument
that the 2003 legislation would curb the “medical malpractice crisis”
in Florida, and drive down malpractice insurance rates, was not supported
by appropriate statistics.