On June 8th, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that caps for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits are unconstitutional, a ruling that rejected a change that the legislature and then-Governor Jeb Bush signed into law in 2003. The four justices who were in the majority found that non-economic damages caps violated equal-protection rights guaranteed in the Florida Constitution. They also disputed the existence of a medical malpractice insurance crisis, which had been the impetus for approving the law in 2003.
Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, in their majority opinion wrote, “We conclude that the caps on noneconomic damages … arbitrarily reduce damage awards for plaintiffs who suffer the most drastic injuries,”
This was, however, a sharply divided court with Justices Ricky Polston, Charles Canady and Alan Lawson firing off a blistering dissent claiming that the majority justices had overstepped their roles. In a story in the Palm Beach Post, Justice Polston wrote:
“The majority just discards and ignores all of the Legislature’s work and factfinding. But, under our constitutional system, it is the Legislature, not this (Supreme) Court, that is entitled to make laws as a matter of policy based upon the facts it finds. It is the Legislature’s task to decide whether a medical malpractice crisis exists, whether a medical malpractice crisis has abated, and whether the Florida statutes should be amended accordingly. For a majority of this (Supreme) Court to decide that a crisis no longer exists, if it ever existed, so it can essentially change a statute and policy it dislikes, improperly interjects the judiciary into a legislative function.”
Plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorneys oppose caps on non-economic damages for medical malpractice lawsuits because they would be detrimental to patients who have been injured because of a medical mistake.
With preventable medical errors now being considered the third leading cause of death, with more than 440,000 Americans dying each year from medical mistakes (Journal of Patient Safety), a patient who has suffered a catastrophic injury at the hands of a doctor is no longer limited by law as to how much compensation they might receive for their pain and suffering, emotional distress and other damages.
If you have sustained a serious injury because of a medical provider’s negligence, the Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys at Yeboah Law Group are here to fight to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call us at (800) TELL-SAM to discuss your case or complete our contact form to make an appointment.