Three years after the Missouri Supreme Court found that the state’s medical malpractice cap was unconstitutional, the state’s legislative and executive branches have brought back a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice claims. Learn more below.
Missouri Supreme Court Decision
Three years ago, the Missouri Supreme Court declared that the state’s flat $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages, "violated the constitutional right to have a jury decide Missouri common law claims." This is because "when Missouri’s Constitution was adopted in 1820, there was a right to a jury trial in cases such as medical malpractice claims," according to medicalmalpracticelawyers.com.
New Law 2015
The new Missouri law, passed by the state’s legislature and Governor Jay Nixon, does the following:
- Limits noneconomic damages on most medical malpractice cases to $400,000.
- Raises the cap to $700,000 in cases involving "catastrophic claims" e.g., paralysis, brain injury.
- Raises the existing cap on noneconomic damages in wrongful death claims from $350,000 to $700,000.
- The nonecomic damages cap will now increase by 1.7% each year.
In addition, the new law reclassifies medical malpractice claims as statutory claims, whereas they were previously common law claims. This could potentially result in the removal of a medical malpractice plaintiff’s right to a jury trial in Missouri.
Relevant Medical Malpractice Information
Medical malpractice law, specifically regarding caps on damages, is a point of contention in many states.