U.S. Capital

Missouri Gov. Nixon Signs Into Law Bill Limiting Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

Jun 24, 2015

St. Peters, MO, (Law Firm Newswire) June 24, 2015 – State Supreme Court struck down similar law on caps three years ago.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law on May 9 legislation that will place caps on the amount of some damage awards in medical malpractice cases. The new law does not mark the first time the Show Me State has attempted to limit damages in medical malpractice cases, though, as the Missouri Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the state’s previous law on such damages three years ago.

The Democratic governor signed into law the measure, Senate Bill 239, while at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City. A bipartisan coalition supported the measure in both houses of the Legislature, as it passed the state Senate in a 28-2 vote in March and then the House in a 125-27 vote in April. Many Democrats who had opposed previous versions of the bill supported the measure that ultimately passed because it included higher limits and 1.7 percent annual increases to those limits.

The new caps will stand at $400,000 for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering in the bulk of medial malpractice cases, and $700,000 for so-called catastrophic cases that include cases involving paralysis, loss of vision and brain injury. In addition, the existing cap on wrongful death cases will double from $350,000 to $700,000.

“While the new law may seem appealing and reasonable to some hospitals, doctors’ groups and politicians concerned with costs, it is not fair to the patients who have already suffered serious personal injuries due to a physician’s actions,” said Charles James, a prominent attorney in St. Peters, Mo., whose firm specializes in medical malpractice cases. “And with limits to damages, some doctors or hospitals could avoid meaningful consequences for their actions and become repeat offenders.”

In July 2012, the state Supreme Court invalidated the previous caps that had been on the books since 2005, ruling that its flat $350,000 limit on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases was unconstitutional. The high court’s position was that the old restrictions on damages violated a person’s right to a jury trial under common law, which was included in Missouri’s first constitution in 1820.

Lawmakers who backed the new law believe that it will pass legal muster with the state’s high court because the medical malpractice caps are a statutory and not a common law cause of action.

“The state Supreme Court pointed out with good reason that the 2005 law violated a person’s right to a jury trial, which is where the decision should rest of how much compensation an injured party should receive,” James said. “That fact has not changed, even as lawmakers have changed the monetary figures in the recently enacted law.”

Learn more at http://www.jameslawgroup.net/.

James Law Group, LLC
14 Richmond Center Court
St. Peters, MO 63376

Phone: 636.397.2411
Toll Free: 800.229.7112



  • Case before Supreme Court
    Firm partner, John James, to argue a case before the Missouri Supreme Court in April, 2015 regarding a police officer’s immunity from a law suit under State and Federal law. Plaintiff has alleged that the police officer provided false and misleading information to the prosecutor and the court, which resulted in her arrest and prosecution.
  • Missouri bans deadly highway guardrail
    The Missouri Department of Transportation has banned a type of highway guardrail implicated in the deaths of at least 14 motorists, including one Missouri man. Missouri resident Brad Abeln was killed in January after another driver swerved and pushed him into the guardrail. According to whistleblowers, the faulty guardrail contains a steel bar that should […]
  • This Thanksgiving, stay safe on Black Wednesday
    Most Americans know about Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving, when shoppers hit the malls and online stores to pick up huge savings on their Christmas shopping. Fewer Americans are aware of Black Wednesday — the day before Thanksgiving. The term originated in the hospitality industry in reference to the packed bars that characterize […]
  • More deaths and injuries linked to GM ignition switch defect
    The independent administrator of the General Motors (GM) compensation fund has found more deaths and injuries caused by the faulty ignition switches than GM originally found on its own. The new count includes at least six more deaths and four more injuries that GM has not acknowledged. And the independent administrator, Kenneth Feinberg, says that […]
  • Three essential steps for claiming workers’ compensation benefits
    Obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can seem like an intimidating process, especially if your employer shows no interest in helping you with it. The Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation recommends that you consult a lawyer if you feel confused or unsure about the process. While following a successful claim to completion can take some work, here […]