Did Gov. Nixon hurt Missourians by signing SB 239?

Whether you're a follower of the news or a follower of our blog, chances are good you've heard about Senate Bill 239, which passed through the Senate and House with majority approval just months ago. As we explained in a March 11 post, the bill intended to put a cap on noneconomic damages received in medical malpractice lawsuits. As of a few months ago, the bill only needed the signature of Gov. Jay Nixon in order to become law.

For those who don't know, the pen fell on May 7 when Gov. Nixon signed what many in Missouri considered an injustice to victims of medical malpractice. That's because, as we pointed out in our post, the bill places a limit on the value of a person's life, which is not something many believe the government should be able to do.

So did Gov. Nixon hurt Missourians by signing SB 239? Some might argue yes, particularly if we look at the compensation cap compared to actual earning potential.

Let's consider for a moment the fact that the average American, according to the United States Census Bureau, makes just under $52,000 a year. Assuming that an individual works 40 years, their lifetime earning potential could be more than $2 million. This figure might be hard to swallow, especially considering the fact that SB 239 caps noneconomic damages at only $400,000 for injuries and $700,000 for catastrophic and fatal injuries.

Though we are only asking our Joplin readers to consider the question above, we do hope it's one our lawmakers will consider as well. After all, there must have been a reason why the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the cap three years ago.

Sources: The St. Louis Business Journal, "Medical malpractice cap passes Missouri Legislature," Corey Noles, April 22, 2015

Senate.mo.gov, "SB 239," Accessed July 21, 2015

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