U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Florida Law That Caps Medical Malpractice Damages

Categories: Law & Order
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Florida law is very concerned about insurance premiums.
According to Florida law -- and now the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals -- doctors' sometimes-deadly mistakes have a financial limit: $500,000.

The law was being challenged by Michelle McCall, who the Associated Press reports died after giving birth to her son in 2006 after a nurse decided not to tell a doctor that her blood pressure was running dangerously low and the doctor never checked her vital signs.

A Florida judge found McCall's family to be entitled to $2 million in noneconomic damages, but that was reduced to $1 million due to state law -- $500,000 for the malpractice of both the nurse and doctor.

But the McCall family decided the state shouldn't be able to decide how much their family member's life cost.

They filed the lawsuit on the grounds that the cap violated their right to access the courts and that the law was passed for a phony reason to begin with.

The law came about in 2003, under the premise that malpractice insurance premiums were rising like crazy -- which is still yet to be proven.

The appeals court's decision last week cited a Florida House committee report that doctors were either changing the scope of their medical practice or leaving the state altogether to escape the rising premiums.

The court says the malpractice cap law "passes muster," but the court still recommended the Florida Supreme Court consider the case on the grounds that the cap could violate the family's right to a jury trial.

Click here to read the decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.


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29 comments
daniel00
daniel00

How can you truly place a price on life???! .... Can't... Sorry... I know mine is/was simply "Priceless"...

Yet, can't measured in money.... I'd give anything..any amount of $$$ for my precious stolen years of memories back..  I want to recall my first moments of when I saw my children being born, holding them and my Wedding night, or my kids awards.. from my eyes.. my thoughts... can't replace those. not even with/from pictures/video.. 

They're lost from my anoxia brain loss and then my stroke finished the rest off/ TBI.. 

Priceless, yet even still.. $1M isn't enough to bring those back, nor make me smile again..not fully. 

daniel00
daniel00

Continued opinion of mine... From below/previous post:  


I will forever not be able to walk correctly again, migraines galore, seizures..TIA"s are the best when in the shower, or trying to make love to my spouse.. yes.. can't even kiss anymore..like I once had... I can't eat normal, now live from pain meds to help me just to be awake... not smiling ..can't.. vision/hearing is worse..actually can't hear now in my left ear..  nor play with my children...can't breath well..inflammation now and heart problems.. I have the body of 67 year I was told.. I'm ONLY 36 now..  I have SO much more too.. Pissed.. 

Within 3 months total.. month before my injury happened to when i was dx.... 

I developed  being "normal" then BAM!.. 

Stage 1 Cancer

Rapid rate of exploding cancerous cells developed.. Uterine cancer within  2 months after my stroke, too.. 

low immune and caught a very bacteria infection that I obtained during that surgery from unsterile equipment/mask.. 

Gross, right.. Yeah.. Not unheard of though to cause issues and exacerbate when healthy/normal prior.. ick. 

Menopause frightens me terribly.. another stroke most likely then,cause of hormone influx and BP problems .

.OH.. And guess I'm limited now.. I missed birthday parties, lost friends, LOST a $600,ooo Business deal and two of my Companies I had to allow to go under not long after that.. Horrible and I Only receives 3x for punitive..if lucky..??? And only hopefully.. not holding my breath.. can't anyways, yet $500,ooo per location, not Doctor when employed in center/hospital.. Suuuure.. 

Favors ONLY them.. NOT US! 

I will NEVER work in Nursing again, even if I wanted to go back into on the side..  I'm in my mid 30's now mind you and was active, fun and funny.. Not anymore.. 

I'm livid that I had to suffer and we endured this horrific pain,cause they were talking about their dinner plans and Oppps.. 

We couldn't hear you hadn't a heart beat..  finally HR told us, so we have a solid case against their lies!  WAIT.. They're a surgery center, so nope.. can't receive more damages money this way now.. there's ANOTHER Crappy limit there! ..Lame! 


OHHH.. AND... ( Doctors & Staff) ... in their heads.. We lied/ tried to cover up our HUGE F-Up mistake, so you wouldn't figure out what we did to you, along with the permanent nerve damages I suffer daily and now pain meds the rest of my life with seeing 6 different specialty Doctors now.. 

BUT.. Umm Hey! Yup.. Let's LIMIT the victims/Family, AFTER their subrogated wealthy insurance carriers receive their due's ... PLUS.. 

The person's Attorney Firm who has to get their " Fair".. (cough ...cough)..... F'n  joke of a contingency fees of 33-40%.. yeah.. meaning a HUGE Whooping chuck of change 1/3 net....My not so fun-sized tushy it's Fair..  They should ONLY be allowed 20% tops! Total.. even experts ect included in that %/fee.. not extra.. quick story.. Friend was awarded from her malpractice injury.. was won nearly $300,ooo..  BUT..

She had to PAY $7.oo after all said and done.. Yes! $7!!!! Cause Her attorney and her health insurance carrier stole, i mean devoured.. Sorry.. deserved their Fair share of pay backs.. she has life long problems now.. can't work.. refused from receiving disability and sincerely .. I feel for her.. Great settlement, yet 40% fees he had, extra costs towards paper reams, expert witnesses and was in her contract , so she's having another Atty look over, if breeched.. horrible.. WE as the injured should NOT have to deal with NAY more stress, especially when we hadn't caused it.. we endure.. we suffer and we should have our fair compensations and then some to make sure we feel alright after seeing them go down for their mistakes.. NOT Gov interfering cause of political agenda's. 


Suuuure.. So.. that basically leaves me.. The patient and NOW my Family with basically not enough to cover my past and current medical costs.. Nothing really.. Not after said and done.. 

 Hope this Family will make some positive wavs here in Florida.. 

if not..

 I survived this long and been through SO much.. I'm here for a huge reason and not just to sit idly by watching this occur any more.. I wanna make changes for the best..

 For Justice! 

You watch.. you'll see.. Me...By 2016 advocate for us all! 


daniel00
daniel00

what bothers me.. I'm about to begin a VERY icky malpractice case(s) in Florida. Seriously.. Doctors during my surgery didn't even recognize I was dead from cardiac arrest after their overdose for 8 minutes.. Yes.. TBI from that, then 3-4 weeks after I had stroke which funny, yet not was ALSO ignorantly misdiagnosed at a Hospital,then following the other moron Doctors who choose NOT to make their own assessment,yet to read records from other previous Doctors aka Misdx records of my stroke stating I actually had a "migraine" instead.. Long story short.. I have 4 children and Married, which my life since 2012 has not been the same.. at all.. I have a heart problem and brain damages, along with emotional/cognotive problems and my family suffered a great deal.. we lost a car to repos, when my spouse had to leave his job to care for my... one sided paryazed drooling then and our youngest child who was only 4 months old. 

SO... I'm pissed off, VERY upset.. NO.. WE ARE angry when I read the rest of my life depends on being "limited".... So called cheap insulting medial injury Caps because of more greedy Government officials playing nicely and  ever so pettily fair with Doctors, Staff, Hospitals & supporting of their needs alone (endless pockets) with insurance Carriers who have wrongly chosen these limiting cap Laws to feed their OWN belly's! * ALSO*... At this point in time when decided for these ridiculous unjust limiting caps in Florida.. Go check who was in Office and elections. ;) Yup! That was the MAIN reason of doing so... NT because of Doctors leaving, then guess the insurance carriers should of altered certain things in Florida..BEDORE the Doctors wanting to  "leave" and practice else where.. OR.. Hey .. Doc's.. DON'T SCREW UP AND LIE instead, Then... Ya wouldn't have these claims against you..  I knew this law was BS when I worked for years in medical and then disagreed with it back in early 2000's.. Was saddened to hear and NOW.. Even more upset. VERY UNFair.. Should truly be illegal and changed! 

Insulting to patients, or survivors/victims.. HUGE Smack in the face ... with a wrench insulting.. and favors ONLY the ones who truly should pay.. punitive damages.. paaaalease.. ONLY 10 % of ALL injured actually receive punitive in Florida. Sad.. unfortunate! when I get better.. when I win ALL my claims, including the 4 BAD FAITH against my health carrier too..  You'll see me.. Mel up in Tallahassee's fighting on OUR behalf.. Not theirs.. We shouldn't have to pay back Insurance companies fully, not even a penny! why *we*.. 

Yes.. WE The people pay our premiums monthly to have this protection.. We pay

( Cigna)  close to $450 Monthly for our family. Plus, Co-pays and other fee's, if not covered. 


 *IDEA*

 WE.. Injured should have our Choice: 

1.) We accept a lower settlement award ~ WITHOUT ~ Having the past/present medical bills received by the defense and shouldn't have to be forced to pay the subrogation...

2.) Receive the higher award and Pay back the Insurance company for past/ present medical costs. 

OUR Choice.. Not forced to repay... unethical. truly.. 

*** 

 IF the injury was NOT due to malpractice/ accident ..another person Ect.. Insurance carriers Still Would NOT have that money.. regardless, right?! Am I wrong for thinking this matter???...

 Just don't accept the BS.. We should have an option.. If we don't accept the extra settlement money to cover those costs to repay back money.. when the insurance company was DOING THEIR JOBS .. Why should we have to pay back.. sounds unreal to me..  Just exclude that portion when awarded..


Sandman20052005
Sandman20052005

The appeal should have been for the thousands of floridians who are denied any justice if injured by med mal..If you are single over the age of 25 and are killed by a med mal mistake in florida ,there are few attorneys that will take your case.The law states no economic dameges for those in that catogory.The only exception would be if you were very rich and knew a good attorney

Peter
Peter

When doctors violate their oath to do no harm, victims and their families deserve justice. There are many medical attorneys in the market who are ready to helps the victimsMedical Malpractice Lawyers in Florida

Nerve Damage Injury
Nerve Damage Injury

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Marken Jack
Marken Jack

Their first violation of their right to access courts is a false reason that began legal proceedings on the grounds. All the law comes under a premises.

stoke-on-trent solicitors

Razia Gupta
Razia Gupta

No surprise that there are caps on non economic damages.That is what state governments always try to put in place to discourage lawyers from taking lawsuits. (see http://www.equotemd.com/state-... )While caps work in bringing down medical malpractice insurance premiums can a government decide what a patients pain is worth? The supreme court generally says they can't. Florida tort reform will be challenged eventually.

Razia Gupta
Razia Gupta

This will be really interesting to see if what the supreme court says. Most states caps get turned over because they are found to be unconstitutional. Caps do their job though in quickly lowering medical malpractice insurance rates. (see http://www.equotemd.com/blog ) Florida medical malpractice insurance rates have come down significantly. Florida tort reform is strong now but that could go away quickly if the Supreme Court disagrees.Razia

Parkland man
Parkland man

Hey if your looking to sue somebody call 411 pain and if you looking for virgin call 411 brain lol

Parkland man
Parkland man

hey virgin,if you like lawyers so much there are 2 places you can hang out with them the courthouse and club fed there both loaded up with them fn lowlife sb

Parkland man
Parkland man

Hey fuck them lawyers we need doctors more then sb lawyers,it's funny how lawyers sue the balls out of doctors,and there the first one to cry for help if there sick or dying,let's hope doctors take care of lawyers when there having an operation,the pay back way.

Tony
Tony

Actually you got it wrong. There are no caps in Florida for economic damages such as lost wages, medical care etc..  what there is a cap on is non economic damages such as punitive damages, pain and suffering.. The reason this law came about was the amount of abuse from the lawyers. Yes unfortunately some good people should get more than the law allows however the bigger issue is keeping doctors in the state.       

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

And I notice that you completely ignored my point, which is that if you or a member of your family were the victims of medical malpractice, you'd be the first person running to a plaintiff attorney's office.

The Clerk of Court records of your activity prove that, you dumbass.

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

This issue has nothing to do with how anyone feels about attorneys. The facts are that insurance companies have been gouging doctors for years, and in the process, blaming attorneys for this practice. The most comprehensive study on this issue was performed by the Insurance Commissioner in Missouri--a Republican--who proved definitively that during a 10 years time period:

   The 15 largest medical malpractice insurers saw their payouts increase by 7%. (Settlements and Veridicts)  During that same time period, they raised premiums for Doctors by 123%. That is called gouging.

Many Doctors have awakened, but unfortunately, too many are still being bamboozled by the insurance companies.

And you?  You're just a dumbass who lives in a very tiny black and white world with no nuance.

Victim
Victim

First of all, you are obviously uneducate, based on your poor communication skills.  Secondly, put yourself in the situation where one of your parents entered the hospital, you were called and told they had a virus, less than 10 hours later before you made it to the hospital they coded and died.  They were not ill, in good health and now all of a sudden because of a very, very wrong medical diagnosis and not even given the basic medical care you know - Oxygen, IV to help with dehydration, they are gone.  I am offended by your inconsiderate attitude.

Ezebersky
Ezebersky

you call lawyers sbs but you will be the first one to call one if in trouble.  The problem with the caps is that you are artificially valuing human life.  Unfortunately doctors make mistakes.  It is about 5 % of those doctors that make 90 % of the mistakes.  Instead of taking the license to practice medicine away from the at 5 %, the rest of the medical community subsidizes them.  The insurance companies are feeding at the trough too.  On one end malpractice rates rise based on actuarial evidence for future damages which is overstated, and at the same time the health insurance companies decrease the amounts paid to doctors for treatment.

The problem isn't doctors, lawyers or malpractice, but is a system that is broken.  A broken system where the insurance industry wins in two ways.  A system which if not fixed will destroy healthcare delivery.  Forget about malpractice, what are we going to do when doctors close their offices because they cannot afford to keep the lights on because they are getting paid 20 dollars per office visit.  $15 from the patient and $5 from the insurance company (and by the way the patient is paying another $500 per month for insurance premiums per person).

I am a lawyer and fought caps.  I also fight to make sure that doctors get paid for services.  Until this inane profanity laden attacks stop, you are going to be led down the path that the insurance companies want.  Unfortunately if you have your way there will be no one to help you when you are starting to fall off the cliff.

The Pulp Blog
The Pulp Blog

"A Florida judge found McCall's family to be entitled to $2 million in non-economic damages, but was reduced to $1 million due to state law -- $500,000 for the malpractice of both the nurse and doctor."

I'm not sure where that's wrong.

Darren McKinney
Darren McKinney

Nor, Virgil, does the issue have anything to do with how any one of us, as individuals, might feel or what we might do if confronted by circumstances such as those confronted by the plaintiffs in this sad case.

The issues are: what can society as a whole afford to pay for health care, and what reasonable steps can we take to limit health care costs?  An unemotional, rational majority of Floridians elected an unemotional, rational majority of lawmakers and a governor who enacted what they believe is a reasonable limit on noneconomic damages in medical liability lawsuits.  So live with the law, work to change the law, or move to a state where the trial lawyers still own the legislature, such as Sue York.

Darren McKinney
Darren McKinney

How is a legislature's judgment about "valuing human life" any more or less "artificial" than judgments rendered by juries?  Since society obviously can't afford infinte compensation for those injured, somewhere a line must be drawn.  And who better to draw such a line than elected representatives of all citizens concerned?   

Legislatures have a clear responsibility to craft policies in the public interest, and keeping health care available to citizens while keeping the courts from becoming accessories to the extortion Florida's notorious personal injury lawyers routinely perpetrate on doctors and hospitals is inarguably in the public interest.

Parkland man
Parkland man

Bullshit it's all the fn lawyers fault and the bs lawsuits they put on everybody,the only reason I would call a lawyer is to tell him to fuck his mother,try suing a doctor in Texas it's not happening there no more and going to be the same way here soon also.fuck lawyers.

Darren McKinney
Darren McKinney

Your lead paragraph is wrong, Matthew, wherein you leave poorly informed readers with the impression that ALL damages are limited to $500,000, when in fact only subjective non-economic damages are limited.

Why did you choose not to report what the plaintiffs won by way of overall damages?  My guess is its because an award of several millions of dollars, even in a tragic case such as this, would impress most readers as reasonable.  After all, health care providers are human and, unfortunately, will sometimes make mistakes.  Yet money for the compensation of their patients doesn't grow on trees.  We all pay for those damage awards in the form of higher insurance premiums and less readily available health care (when doctors quit their practices or move them to less litigious states).

Darren McKinneyAmerican Tort Reform AssociationWashington, D.C. 

Victim
Victim

I am thankful for the attorney's that took our lawsuit. Because of caps the payout will be minute compared to the worth of my parent who is no longer with me, but you know what those arrogant, inept doctors and that horrible hospital will have a malpractice lawsuit on their record......and I am positive they will have more....and hopefully we will have helped one life be saved.  Honestly a malpractice lawsuit takes years.  Years of pain, heartache, tears, and rememberance of it all.  Try going to bed every night closing your eyes and having the whole bad scene played over and over and over, again and again and again.  For what, a measly $350k divided by several siblings - no bud, not at all but for the opportunity to look these guys in the face and hope, that just for one second, they felt my pain.  In reality their premiums do not even raise - the $350k responsibility is split, in our case it was between 3 defendants - they did not even financially feel it!  Mr. Parkland man, I truly hope that you never have to endure this kind of pain - I would not wish it on anyone.

Parkland man
Parkland man

Hey virgin,doctors can even get insurance because of all these fn sb lawyers suing them,you claim to be so smart look up the new laws in Texas they got reform and you can't sue them anymore,most of the doctors left there do to the fn bs lawsuits and now there coming back.in my field I know many doctors and they fn hate lawyers,there all llc with no insurance because of that sb lawyers,and I would never and I mean never sue a doctor period,I only use a sb lawyer to fight off a sb lawyer,if you know the rules and you get sued you have to have a lawyer.like it or knot and I don't like it or them.again fuck lawyers right in there ass.

Virgil Starkwell
Virgil Starkwell

You should sue the Doctor that left that surgical appliance in your brain. You're completely full of shit on this issue, because as the educated attorney stated above, if you or a member of your family were a victim of medical malpractice, you'd be the first one to run and hire an attorney. And the first to complain about caps.

Broaden your horizons and expand your mind, Littlebrain.

It's never too late.

Victim
Victim

  What about those of us who have a parent who was killed in a hospital due to th ineptness of the doctors and hospital where no economic damages were incurred.  The loss of a life happened though, and shame on you for placing a monetary value on human life, because no amount of money could replace my precious parent or help me with the complete grief and pain that I experience. Realizing how much suffering has happened not only by my siblings, but also by our parent who is no longer with us, leaves me distraught and angry when I read comments like yours.  Honestly I think that it is time for doctors to be held accountable, and maybe that will end some of their ineptness and arrogant attitudes.

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