Arbitrary caps on how much money people injured by medical malpractice can recover have been declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court
The court ruled the caps did not malpractice insurance premiums and unfairly hurt those most severely injured by doctors’ mistakes.
“The caps on noneconomic damages … arbitrarily reduce damage awards for plaintiffs who suffer the most drastic injuries,” the court said.
The law limited pain and suffering awards against doctors to $500,000, or $1 million if the injuries were catastrophic.
The case the court ruled on involves a woman who was severely injured while doctors performed wrist surgery to alieve her carpal tunnel syndrome at a Broward County hospital. An anesthesia tube punctured Susan Kalitan’s esophagus during the surgery. She awoke and complained of severe back and chest pain. Doctors were unaware of the injury and gave her pain medication and sent her home, according to court documents.
In the ruling the justices said the law violates the equal protection clause because “the arbitrary reduction of compensation without regard to the severity of the injury does not bear a rational relationship to the Legislature’s stated interest in address the medical malpractice crisis.”