Unless the United States Supreme Court changes things, the decision of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has approved a Florida law that limits the amount that injury victims can receive in lawsuits based upon medical malpractice to $500,000 in noneconomic damages.
In other words, no matter how stupid or horrific the mistake made by the doctor or nurse, Florida plaintiffs can only obtain (1) reimbursement for expenses (their economic expense) and (2) $500,000 for everything else.
A few years ago, the Florida Legislature passed a law that limited medical malpractice claims' noneconomic damages (pain, suffering, etc.) to $500,000.00. It wouldn't matter what were the facts of a particular case -- no what a judge or jury thought, the law basically gave the health care provider a Free Pass after that amount was paid.
The brave family of one woman, Michelle McCall, who died in 2006 during childbirth due to a nurse's error combined with a doctor's failure to check Mrs. McCall's blood pressure. They challenged the justice of this by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
McCall Trial Judge Approved $2,000,000 as Justice for Death of Michelle McCall
The Florida judge who heard the facts of the McCall tragedy held that they should receive to $2,000,000 million in non-economic damages. Under the Florida statute, this was gutted per the $500,000 cap. So, the McCall family appealed.
They argued that the statute was passed back in 2003 on a lie: back then, Florida's med mal cap was passed amidst a brouhaha that medical malpractice insurance premiums were going to skyrocket, and that soon it would be too risky and expensive for doctors to practice. The 2003 law was passed to help keep doctors' office doors open.
However, the McCalls, argued this was a Chicken Little argument, the sky never fell. So, the courts shouldn't respect the $500,000 cap when it was so obviously an injustice, disregarding what the judge had decided was a fair amount based upon the facts of the case.
McCall Family Stymied by $500,000 Cap Unless U.S. Supreme Court Helps Them - and Every Other Florida Victim of Serious Medical Errors
The appellate court was not swayed by the McCalls' arguments. Now, only if they have the financial stamina and emotional wherewithal to try and take their case to the Highest Court in the Land will this not be a slam-dunk win for doctors and their insurance companies in this state.
By June 2, 2011 2:47 PM on