Surgeon Wins Again in Lawsuit Appeal; More

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA

Disclosures

April 16, 2019

In This Article

Florida Tries Again to Institute Med-Mal Caps

A reconstituted Supreme Court has apparently emboldened Sunshine State lawmakers to try to reinstate Florida's cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, reports Health News Florida and other news outlets.[5]

In 2003, the Florida legislature passed a law that capped such awards against physicians between $500,000 and $1 million. According to that law's sliding formula, the amount a successful plaintiff received depended on several factors, including whether the care had been provided in a regular or emergency setting. If it were the latter, the compensation typically would be less.

In 2017, a sharply divided Florida Supreme Court declared those damage limits unconstitutional.

Now, however, three of the justices who were part of that majority decision have reached the court's mandatory retirement age and stepped down. In their place, newly elected Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has appointed three judges who are expected to tilt the high court in a more conservative direction. This likely shift may have given the green light to lawmakers wishing to reinstate the 2003 limits, which the proposal introduced in the State House last month would do.

"This...is clearly the legislature saying, 'Hey, the Supreme Court of Florida, you need to respect the separation of powers,'" said GOP Rep Tommy Gregory (R-Sarasota), in describing the bill to the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. "We are telling the court, 'You decided these cases contrary to our intent.'"

Earlier in the month, the same subcommittee supported a similar proposal—one that would impose a $1 million cap on noneconomic damages in personal injury and wrongful-death lawsuits not involving medical malpractice.

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