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Missouri Hears Case on Malpractice Caps

The legal representatives for the family of a woman who died after open heart surgery in 2011 appeared before the Missouri Supreme Court. They are arguing that the state’s cap on how much the survivors of medical malpractice lawsuits can receive is unconstitutional.

If the family prevails in the case, it could mean that another blow has been struck to the state’s medical malpractice laws which cap noneconomic damages that can be collected by families injured in medical malpractice and medical negligence lawsuits. The law, as it stands, does not compensate victims for harm, which include lost wages, medical expenses or other economic damages that result from a case of medical malpractice.

In a personal injury case heard in 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that such caps on noneconomic damages were unconstitutional. The Court said in its ruling that the limits violated the right to a jury trial that had existed under common law when Missouri’s first constitution was adopted in 1820.

The plaintiffs in the case brought their medical malpractice lawsuit against St. Louis-area cardiologist Dr. Robert Ferrara after he performed a test on Shannon Dodson that blocked blood flow in her heart. She then required emergency surgery after the procedure. Dodson, 34, died later that day.

While a trial by jury awarded Dodson’s husband and children $9 million in noneconomic damages, a trial court reduced the amount of damages to a mere $350,000 based on the state’s law.

The Supreme Court judges did not give any indication as to when a final ruling is expected on the case.

When medical professionals such as doctors or surgeons to make a mistake, the results can be devastating to both patients and their loved ones. While caps were put into place as a way to discourage some frivolous lawsuits, insurance companies and medical associations have used the laws to limit their liabilities, leaving families in the lurch. That is why having an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice and medical negligence cases is essential.

At Bottar Leone, PLLC, our attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice and medical negligence law have years of experience. We are committed to protecting the rights of patients and see that they receive every dollar that their case is worth, even challenging the laws when necessary.

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice or negligence by a physician or other health professional, please contact us today. Our offices will schedule a free consultation and evaluation of your case.