Noneconomic damages can be a very important aspect of medical malpractice
litigation, particularly in cases where economic damages areâfor
whatever reasonânot adequate to justly compensate an injured patient.
Unfortunately, some states put caps on noneconomic damages in medical
malpractice cases, including Missouri.
At present, there is a court challenge to a state law capping the amount
of noneconomic damages plaintiffs may receive in
medical malpractice cases. The 2005 law capped noneconomic damages is medical malpractice
cases at $350,000, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that caps
on noneconomic damages were unconstitutional. That was a personal injury
case, however, and the issue on appeal is whether the cap applies in medical
malpractice cases involving allegations of
The appeal is based on the 2011 death of a woman whose life ended after
a St. Louis-area cardiologist performed a heart test which blocked blood
flow to her heart. The jury in that case awarded $9 million in noneconomic
damages, but the trial court reduced the award to $350,000 as per the
2005 cap. The reason for the courtâs decision in that case was
that limiting noneconomic caps in medical malpractice cases violated a
plaintiffâs right to a jury trial.
The issue on appeal is specifically what lawmakers intended with the 2005
cap. On one side, the argument is that lawmakers intended to cap noneconomic
damages in wrongful death cases, but not personal injury cases. On the
other side, the argument is that lawmakers intended to cap noneconomic
damages in all cases.
Weâll continue looking at this issue in our next post. Â
St. Louis Public Radio, âMissouri Supreme Court to decide whether
wrongful death cases are subject to caps on damages,â Marshall
Griffin, Oct. 21, 2015.
Daily Journal, âFamily challenges state caps on damages in medical
malpractice cases to Missouri Supreme Court,â Summer Ballentine
Oct. 21, 2015.
Claims Journal, âMissouri Medical Malpractice Limits on Noneconomic
Damages Challenged Again,â Summer Ballentine, Oct. 23, 2015.Â