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Florida’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Caps on Non-Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

Today in the case of The Estate of Michelle McCall v. United States of America the Florida Supreme Court struck down Florida Statute 766.118 that limited the recovery of non-economic damages to $500,000 per claimant and $1,000,000 per incident regardless of the number of claimants.

The Court in a 4-2 ruling held that the law violates Equal Protection under Article I, Section 2 of Florida’s Constitution. The 42 page majority ruling rationalized the result based upon a the following main points:

  • That people are treated differently under the law when there’s a larger number of claimants thereby reducing the recovery per claimant because of the $1,000,000 cap regardless of the number of claimants even though all other factors were the same.

  • That the law imposes an unfair and unreasonable burden on those who are most severely injured and therefore most in need of compensation.

  • That the caps were arbitrary in nature and didn’t serve a legitimate public purpose.

  • That the data used to support the caps in 2003 by a Task Force under then Governor Jeb Bush, was flawed at best and that even if there was a med-mal insurance crisis then there’s certainly no such crisis now as studies show steady increases in the number of physicians in Florida per 1,000 people dating all the way back to 1991. So the claims that doctors were leaving Florida and that medical services were becoming scarce was false.

  • That despite the caps the medical malpractice industry in Florida had not reduced their rates and had in fact raised rates all while their profit margins rose more than 4300% between the years 2003 and 2010.

It seems like the law didn’t pass the smell test of the Supreme Court by hurting victims, providing no benefits to doctors or the medical industry in Florida all while insurance companies lined their pockets with record profits.

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