Missouri Supreme Court to Assess Caps on Damages in Wrongful Death Cases Says James Law Group
Dec 24, 2015
St. Peters, MO, (Law Firm Newswire) December 24, 2015 – The Missouri Supreme Court is hearing a case that could determine whether wrongful death should fall under the state’s law that limits how much can be received in noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.
The case involves the family of Shannon Dodson, who died in 2011 after heart surgery at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Their lawyer argued that capping damages is unconstitutional as they serve to compensate for other forms of harm besides medical fees, lost earnings or other measurable economic damages.
“Placing a limit on damages disregards the tremendous suffering that patients and their families undergo due to the irresponsible actions of doctors and other medical staff,” said Charles James, a prominent attorney in St. Peters, Missouri, whose firm specializes in personal injury law. “Hospitals and physicians should be held accountable for their actions so that they do not repeat them.”
Dodson’s family was awarded $9 million in noneconomic damages in Dec. 2013. However, a trial court reduced the amount to $350,000 per state laws. Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill capping such damages in medical malpractice cases earlier this year. The new law comes after the Missouri Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that deems limits on noneconomic damages unconstitutional. The court invalidated the previous caps that had been in place since 2005.
The Dodson case raises the issue of whether the limits on damages should remain in a wrongful death case. The family’s attorney argued that while there is a precedent in common law for medical malpractice awards involving personal injury, the limits do not apply to wrongful death cases. He said there should be different policies in wrongful death and personal injury suits. Supreme Court judges questioned whether it makes sense to only restrict damages in personal injury cases in which the patient survives but not in wrongful death cases.
Under the new law, noneconomic damages for pain and suffering in the majority of medical malpractice cases are capped at $400,000. For cases deemed catastrophic due to paralysis, brain injury or loss of vision, the damages are limited to $700,000. For wrongful death cases, the existing cap has been doubled from $350,000 to $700,000.
Learn more at http://www.jameslawgroup.net/.
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