On April 30, 2013, Missouri state senators debated proposed new legislation (House Bill 112) that would reinstate a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases that the Supreme Court of Missouri had held in its July 31, 2012 decision in the Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, et al. case “is unconstitutional to the extent that it infringes on the jury’s constitutionally protected purpose of determining the amount of damages sustained by an injured party. Such a limitation was not permitted at common law when Missouri’s constitution first was adopted in 1820 and, therefore, violates the right to trial by jury guaranteed by article I, section 22(a) of the Missouri Constitution.”
How does the Missouri Senate hope to overturn nearly two hundred years of common law in Missouri? By eliminating Missouri’s common law right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, making the right to sue for medical negligence a statutory right instead. By exchanging the common law right to seek redress for harms caused by medical malpractice for a statutory right to sue, Missourians would be subject to the $350,000 statutory cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases.
Why is the proposed legislation needed? According to Missouri Senator Dan Brown, R-Rolla, “you’re probably going to order a lot more tests than you normally would if those lawsuits are hanging out there and it makes it really hard to recruit new practitioners and it makes it very difficult to retain high risk specialists.”
Say what, Senator Brown? How will punishing victims of medical malpractice by limiting the amount that unbiased Missouri juries determine to be fair compensation for victims of medical malpractice reduce the number of medical tests ordered by Missouri physicians? Do Missourians really want to recruit to their state physicians who move there only because when they provide bad medical care their liability to their victims will be very limited? What will be the recruiting motto for attracting high risk specialists to move to Missouri: “Come to Missouri – where your screw-ups will cost you less!”?
The Missouri House of Representatives had previously passed House Bill 112, on March 28, 2013.
The Missouri Legislature has until May 17th to approve the proposed legislation before the mandatory adjournment. On May 1, 2013, House Bill 112 was “set aside for future debate” in the Missouri Senate.
We believe that all citizens of Missouri expect and deserve more from their elected officials other than special legislation that unfairly benefits a small but politically powerful group of negligent doctors who provide medical treatment that their competent peers consider to be below the standard of care for their profession, harming ordinary Missourians by placing arbitrary and unnecessary limitations on their rights to be made whole as a result of the errors and mistakes of their doctors.
Who should the Missouri Legislature seek to protect: negligent doctors who harm their trusting patients or the innocent and helpless victims of medical malpractice who are sentenced to live the remainder of their lives with permanent and severe disabilities, scarring, pain, suffering, and/or mental anguish, solely because of medical errors or medical mistakes? Let’s hope the Missouri Legislature does the right thing and for the right reasons.
If you or someone you know were injured or suffered other harms in Missouri or in another U.S. state as a result of medical malpractice, you should promptly consult with a Missouri medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may agree to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with Missouri medical malpractice lawyers or medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be willing to assist you with your medical malpractice claim.
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