Up until March 13th of 2014, Florida had a cap on the damages the survivors in a wrongful death case could recover when the wrongful death was caused by medical negligence (medical malpractice). The caps had been passed by the Florida legislature in 1900 after a long Tort Reform campaign led by insurance companies, special interests and the medical establishment. Vigorous campaigns were waged in the media where medical malpractice cases were scorned as raising insurance rates through frivolous lawsuits. Doctors, it was said, would leave the state. Against this backdrop the Florida lawmakers adopted Tort Reform which narrowly restricted the damages that could be recovered when medical malpractice killed a patient. The damages for non-economic losses were capped at $500,000. per claimant.

The Florida Supreme Court has held that the statutory cap on wrongful death medical malpractice noneconomic damages is unconstitutional and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution. In reaching its decision, the Court also debunked the rhetoric and false claims made by the proponents of Tort Reform.  Noneconomic damages are commonly referred to as mental pain and suffering damages and mental anguish damages. These are the damages that the surviving wife, for example, suffers because of the untimely death of her husband. These are the emotional damages and loss of a parent damages that the surviving children suffer when their father is killed due to a hospital error. Based on the Florida Supreme Court’s latest pronouncement, these damages cannot be limited.

In the opinion of the lawyer who owns this web page, this is a great decision that helps level the playing field for those who might bring a wrongful death claim when they have lost a loved one. Medical malpractice cases are expensive, time consuming and technical. Lawyers who take these cases spend tens of thousands of dollars for expert witnesses and litigation costs. Caps on damages keep lawyers from taking cases: no worthwhile lawyer takes a case where client compensation finishes last. Now a trial lawyer can take a medical malpractice wrongful death case and be assured that the client will receive a full measure of damages. Caps limit justice. Juries have historically assessed damages in wrongful death cases and determined the reasonable amount.

To discuss this post further contact info@jaycooperlaw.com.  The case can be found at 39FLW(S)104 and is styled:  Estate of McCall vs. The United States of America.