State Supreme Court to Address Applying Damage Cap Ruling Retroactively
We recently addressed whether wrongful death damage caps were constitutional in, Estate of McCall v. US, 2014 Fla LEXIS 933 (Fla. Mar. 13, 2014). To briefly summarize, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the arbitrary statutory amounts that could be awarded for nonfinancial losses such as mental anguish and pain and suffering. This was a major win for those injured by medical malpractice that resulted in wrongful deaths in Florida.
Now, the Florida Supreme Court has been tasked with deciding whether damage caps enacted in late 2003 were intended to be applied to incidents that happened before the caps became law. This is known as “retroactivity.”
Why Is This Case Important, Due Process?
The Court is looking at the case of one patient that suffered complications in early 2003, after doctors performed an “unnecessary surgery” on her leg. Attorneys for the patient are arguing that applying the limits retroactively violates constitutional due-process rights. The attorneys also bring to attention that the lawmakers never placed heavy emphasis on making the limits retroactive.
Due Process, in this instance, means the constitutional guarantee that a law shall not be unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious.
How Is This Case Different from Estate of McCall?
This case is different from McCall for a few reasons. As mentioned before, the current case focuses on due-process rights, whereas McCall focused on equal-protection. In McCall, the argument was that the cap resulted in some injured people receiving full compensation while arbitrarily denying others compensation, meaning that people were not treated equally under the law.
Secondly, McCall’s focus was strictly wrongful deaths, whereas this case’s focus is on a patient who survived her injuries and is the only one who was awarded damages for pain and suffering.
Were You Injured by Medical Malpractice in the Past?
This will be an important development to follow if you were injured due to medical malpractice prior to the cap being enacted. If you did have any experiences with medical malpractice, whether settled or not, you should immediately speak with a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney, as they will be able to explain how this case could affect you.