The Missouri Supreme Court has tossed out the state’s caps on malpractice claims, touching off a strong reaction from supporters and opponents of the caps, put in place in 2005. The Missouri State Medical Association issued a strongly worded statement saying that the ruling “eviscerates one of the nation's most successful tort reform laws” and could result in physicians leaving the state.
My response: Hogwash!!!!!!!
Whenever a “tort reform” measure goes down in flames, the advocates resort to scare tactics. Doctors will leave the state. No good doctors will come to Missouri. Doctors will refuse to treat patients for fear of being sued. Fearmongers, and complete crap!
The president of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys lauded the court's action as "a good day for anyone in Missouri who believes in the constitution." In the 4-3 ruling, written by Chief Justice Richard B. Teitelman, the state court ruled that Missouri’s cap on non-economic damages violates the state constitution’s right to a fair trial because courts would have to reduce such jury-awarded damages if they were larger than the state’s cap.
The case that prompted the decision was Watts vs. Cox Medical Center, in which a woman gave birth to a son in 2006 with serious brain damage. She sued the medical center and her doctors, proving that there were clear warning signs several days before the birth that should have prompted swifter medical action. The jury agreed and awarded the woman $3.37 million to help pay for the extensive medical bills for her son.
Missouri's legislature enacted a cap of $350,000 in 2005. The Missouri Supreme Court said that a reduction of the jury verdict to $350,000 would not be anywhere near enough for the medical bills the woman would incur for her son.
Tim Dollar, president of the Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers, said the Missouri court's decision reflected what his members has been saying for years -- that the cap on non-economic damages was unfair to the victims and families in malpractice cases where health care services may be needed indefinitely. "The legislature attempted to encroach on our constitutional rights,'' Dollar said, and failed to comprehend "what this (cap) means to children, such as this boy, whose lives are forever altered'' by a mistake in medical care.
The ruling places and keeps the responsibility for the harm caused this young child on the people who caused it, and little doubt, there was more than enough private insurance to pay. This is why people buy insurance. Otherwise, the burden to pay this child’s medical care would fall to the taxpayers. That is not the way the justice system is supposed to work.
If you break it, you should have to pay for it. However, many would prefer to escape responsibility, and have someone else (the government/taxpayers) pay for their mistakes. That is exactly what “damage caps” accomplish.
This is a great ruling for this family, consumers and every American.
What do you think?