A lawsuit currently underway in Florida is questioning whether a $1 million cap on medical malpractice is unconstitutional.
The controversy began earlier this year, when Atlanta’s 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed over a verdict in the case of Michelle McCall. McCall died in 2006 after suffering childbirth complications at a Florida Air Force Clinic. At the time, McCall’s family sued the U.S. government for $3 million – $1 million for medical costs, and $2 million for unspecified damages.
The Circuit Court ruled in May that a $1 million cap should exist in McCall’s case, calling the cap Constitutionally sound. However, the judges left it up to Florida’s Supreme Court to decide whether a $1 million cap violates the state’s own constitution.
Over the past few months, the ruling has prompted a flurry legal filings.
On one side are doctors and several politicians, who argue that uncapped medical malpractice suits increase doctors’ insurance premiums. On the other side are lawyers, and groups like the AARP, who claim that caps discourage lawyers from taking cases where economic damages are low.
I can certainly see where both sides are coming from. However, as a medical malpractice lawyer, I’d have to side with those who are against the caps – simply because the damages awarded in a case should always cover medical costs. And, as I know from experience, medical costs can often well exceed $1 million.