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Fourth District Court of Appeals Overturns Personal Injury Caps

Another of Florida’s tort-reform laws took a hit recently. Florida’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the damages cap of $500,000 for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases violates Florida’s Constitution.

This latest ruling comes after Florida’s Supreme Court ruled last year that the pain and suffering damages cap in wrongful death cases violates the state’s constitution. In that case, Estate of McCall v. United States, a woman died after bleeding to death as she gave birth to her child. The woman’s family brought a wrongful death suit based on negligence, and after they won their case, the court was forced to reduce the jury’s verdict to $500,000, as mandated by Florida law. But Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that such a law had no rational basis in trying to solve the problem of high medical malpractice insurance costs.

Fourth District Court of Appeals Follows Estate of McCall

At the time Estate of McCall v. United states was decided, critics argued that the case would lead to Florida’s additional caps being overturned. And that is exactly what happened in North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan.

In this newest case to overturn Florida’s cap law, a woman went into surgery for a routine carpal tunnel procedure. She was treated by a student learning how to become a nurse anesthetist, and during intubation her esophagus was ruptured. After she woke up she complained of chest pain, but the doctor sent her home without a thorough examination. Soon after she came home she was rushed to the emergency room by her friend where doctors there had to perform life-saving surgery. After all of this grief, she sued her original surgical team for medical malpractice. After a trial where both cases were presented, a jury awarded her a verdict of over $4,700,000; $4 million of that award was for pain and suffering, both in the past and future.

It was in this context of facts that the Fourth District Court of Appeals felt they were bound to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling in Estate of McCall v. U.S. The caps on how much a litigant can receive for pain and suffering were passed in the early 2000s when many states were passing such laws. The reasons given for passing these caps were many, including that medical malpractice insurance costs were so high that doctors would choose not to practice in Florida. It was also argued that medical malpractice costs were contributing to skyrocketing healthcare costs. As a result the Florida legislature passed law limiting how much a person could collect for personal injury cases in medical malpractice.

At the time the laws were passed, critics insisted that they would not reduce insurance costs, and would not reduce hospital costs. And now Florida courts are overturning those laws because they are ruling that passage of the laws has no rational basis in either goal. This is welcome news to victims of malpractice who deserve to be justly compensated for the negligence of others.

A Law Firm for All Personal Injury Cases

If you or someone you love was injured in any way in Miami due to someone else’s negligence, contact us. At Alan Goldfarb, P.A., we represent victims of personal injury. We will review your case and give you your legal options.

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