There are now two Florida appellate courts – including the one that oversees courts in Fort Myers – that have ruled in favor of eliminating medical malpractice damage caps of non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits. That means we could be very close to seeing the elimination of damage caps in all medical malpractice lawsuits in the state. The most recent ruling was handed down by Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal in Port Charlotte HMA v. Suarez.
The Florida Supreme Court was already considering an earlier ruling to this same effect made by Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal in North Broward Hospital v. Kalitan. Both rulings cite precedent set by the Florida’s Supreme Court’s 2014 opinion in McCall v. U.S., which struck down medical malpractice damage caps in wrongful death cases, finding them unconstitutional. But McCall, which invoked the constitutional right to equal protection, applied only to those cases in which the patient had died. Surviving patients are still subject to damage caps, which were approved by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, who sided with lawmakers citing a “medical malpractice crisis.” It was asserted such caps were needed to stem the tide of doctors fleeing the state due to hefty medical malpractice payouts. The state supreme court conducted its own analysis and found these and other claims upon which the law was enacted were simply untrue (the number of doctors in Florida was actually increasing during this time and there was no evidence of frivolous lawsuits or excessive verdicts).
Other states, including Illinois and New Hampshire, have previously struck down damage caps in medical malpractice lawsuits. Continue reading →