Wisconsin Could be Next State to Declare Malpractice Damage Caps Unconstitutional
An issue that bears similarity to what happened right here in Florida is now up for debate in Wisconsin. At issue: whether or not caps on non-economic damages (pain and suffering) in medical malpractice lawsuits are constitutional or not. In June of 2017, Florida’s State Supreme Court voted to put an end to certain caps holding that it violated equal protection under the law. In addition, the argument that “junk” lawsuits against doctors were “out of control” was found to be lacking in factual evidence. Now Wisconsin’s Supreme Court will have to decide on the issue just as Florida’s has.
Florida May Have Become the Paradigm for Defeating Damage Caps
There may be a reason why there are so many parallels between the two states when it comes to caps on damages. Florida was one such state in which damage caps were pushed for under the governorship of Jeb Bush. They stayed on the books for over a decade but little improvement was made when it came to premiums and health care costs.
The Florida and Wisconsin cases illustrate specific instances where the caps are excessively punitive on catastrophically injured plaintiffs. Both involve life-altering, loss of limb injuries to living victims. Both involve relatively young women whose lives were forever changed by medical incompetence. It becomes difficult, in the light of these individual cases, to make the case that these women only deserved $750,000 to $1 million in damages for the suffering that they endured and will continue to endure for the rest of their lives.
The Case against the Case against Damage Caps
In Wisconsin, attorneys arguing on behalf of the defense may draw much of their arguments from the dissenting opinions of the judges that presided over the Florida case. Fundamentally, the issue does not come down to what the women deserve or whether or not the law is just. The question is whether or not the law violates the constitution of the State of Wisconsin. The majority opinion in Florida argued that individuals were not receiving equal protection under the law with damage caps in place. In effect, damage caps punished those who had suffered the worst injuries.
At the end of the day it was the Court’s conclusion that the harm being created by such awards was not what it was perceived or argued to be and that people were being treated unfairly. Time will tell if the Wisconsin Court comes to the same conclusion.
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