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Missouri Supreme Court Rules Non-Economic Damage Caps Are Unconstitutional in Medical Malpractice Cases

Posted By Russ Purvis || 1-Aug-2012

In a decision that can only be described as a great victory for victims of medical malpractice, on July 31, 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down statutory, non-economic damage caps in medical malpractice cases. Prior to the decision, RSMO Section 538.210 imposed caps on non-economic damages.

In Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, et al.,SC91867, the court held that the damage cap violates the right to trial by jury, as guaranteed by article I, section 22(a) of the Missouri Constitution. The court reasoned that in Missouri, it is the constitutionally mandated role of the jury to determine damages, based on the facts of each individual case, and that the non-economic damage cap infringed on that role.

The importance of this decision to injured victims of medical malpractice cannot be overstated. For example, in the Cox case, the victim suffered disabling brain injuries. The jury determined that the defendants were negligent and awarded $1.45 million in non-economic damages. The trial court reduced the damage award to $350,000.00, as required by RSMO Section 538.210. The case was appealed, and but for the Missouri Supreme Court’s well reasoned decision, over $1 million in damages would have been denied to an innocent victim of medical malpractice by an unconstitutional statute.

If you feel that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the Montee Law Firm, P.C., for a free initial consultation.

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