Missouri Court Rules for Unlimited Liability Payouts

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Written By admin at Wednesday, August 1st, 2012


The Missouri Supreme Court has struck down caps on payouts in liability lawsuits, ruling that limits on damages violates the right to a trial by jury guaranteed by the state’s constitution.

The 5-4 ruling on Tuesday opens the door for injured patients and their families to sue medical facilities and workers for unlimited amounts of money, the Associated Press reports.

The court found that a 2005 Missouri law that capped non-economic damages at $ 350,000 in medical malpractice cases is unconstitutional, the AP said. The court’s majority opinion said  “the right to trial by jury… is not subject to legislative limits on damages.” Non-economic damages are generally paid out to compensate for pain and suffering.

The case in question centered on a medical malpractice lawsuit filed against a medical center and doctors by a woman whose son was born with catastrophic brain injuries, according to court documents.

A jury found that the medical center and doctors had provided negligent medical care, and awarded $ 1.45 million in non-economic damages. A judge then reduced the award to $ 350,000, setting off the appeal, the AP said.

Medical industry groups and Republicans in the state had argued that a cap would not impede a jury from performing its duties, the AP said. Plaintiffs’ attorneys said that a cap would shortchange injured people, the AP said.

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