Malpractice Cap Challenged in Missouri


This week, the Missouri Supreme Court heard a case from a family that wants to challenge the state law limiting the amount of damages they can receive after the mother of the family died following heart surgery.

In February 2011, Dodson went to Mercy Hospital to undergo a “routine catheterization” procedure. During the procedure, one of Dodson’s arteries was dissected. As a result, the inner lining of Dodson’s artery collapsed and blocked blood supply to her heart, resulting in her death.

The husband and children of Shannon Dodson, 34, were awarded a settlement of $10.83 million in August 2013. The lion’s share of the settlement ($9 million) was for non-economic damages. The lawsuit came after a medical procedure that was performed at the medical campus of Mercy Hospital St. Louis that resulted in Dodson’s death. The award in the case was among the largest that was ever granted in the St. Louis area for a case of medical negligence.

A few months later, however, the court reduced the award for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, to a mere $350,000 based on state law.

The attorney for the family argued that the $350,000 cap on non-economic damages should not be applied in this case since the Missouri Supreme Court decided in 2012 that such a cap was unconstitutional. The cap, according to the Supreme Court Ruling, violated the right to a jury trial that had existed under common law when Missouri’s first constitution was adopted in 1820.

Attorneys for the defendant, Dr. Robert P. Ferrara, argued that the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling only applied in cases of personal injury and not in lawsuits alleging wrongful death and the cap should stand.

The Missouri Supreme Court will eventually have to rule on whether or not caps on non-economic damages in wrongful death suits are constitutional or not. While no amount of money can ever take the place of a loved one lost as the result of medical negligence, surviving family members should be justly compensated.

At Bottar Law, we have been fighting for the rights of patients and their loved ones for more than 30 years. If you suspect that you, your child, or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact Bottar Law, PLLC, today. We will schedule a confidential meeting with you to inform you of your rights and the possibility of compensation for any medical expenses, special education, medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering and the tragedy of wrongful death.

You may contact us by telephone at (315) 313-6809, (888) 979-1689, or by email at

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