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.