Cap on non economic damages in medical malpractice ruled unconstitutional by Florida Supreme Court
In 2003 Florida lawmakers decided to limit non economic damages for negligence of practitioners to $500,000 or $1 million “if the negligence resulted in a permanent vegetative state or death”. At the time lawmakers said the cap would stop the medical malpractice insurance crisis and prevent doctors from leaving Florida. However there is no evidence of crisis Today and the Supreme Court of Florida recently ruled that this cap was unconstitutional.
The ruling arose from the case of a victim of medical malpractice who saw the initial amount awarded by a jury substantially reduced by a judge based on this cap. Susan Kalitan had her esophagus perforated during an outpatient surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. She spent 3 months in the intensive care unit including six weeks in a medically induced coma. She sued the North Broward Hospital District and other people involved in her care at the public district. She was initially awarded $4.7 million by the jury for pain and suffering. This amount was reduced to $1 million by Broward Circuit Judge Jack Tuter based on the cap described above. After the cap was found unconstitutional by the Fourth District Court of Appeals, the hospital appealed the decision. In a 30-page opinion the Supreme Court confirmed that the cap was unconstitutional.
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