Florida has become the latest state to strike down a law capping how much an injured plaintiff in a medical malpractice case can receive for non-economic injuries such as pain and suffering.
Florida’s law capped damages at $500,000 unless the medical negligence resulted in death or a permanent vegetative state, in which case damages were capped at $1 million. The case challenging the law involved a woman who died following childbirth due to the negligence of medical personnel. Following trial, the plaintiffs were awarded $2 million in non-economic damages. Under Florida law, the non-economic damages were reduced to $1 million, and the case was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
The court ultimately held that the law on malpractice caps violates the Equal Protection Clause in the state Constitution because “it imposes unfair and illogical burdens on injured parties when an act of medical negligence gives rise to multiple claimants.”
“In such circumstances, medical malpractice claimants do not receive the same rights to full compensation because of arbitrarily diminished compensation for legally cognizable claims,” in the Court’s opinion. “Further, the statutory cap on wrongful death non-economic damages does not bear a rational relationship to the stated purpose that the cap is purported to address, the alleged medical malpractice insurance crisis in Florida.”