Georgia Medical Malpractice Cap on Damages Ruled Unconstitutional

The $350,000 non-economic cap on medical malpractice damages in Georgia was declared to be an unconstitutional violation of the right to jury trial by a unanimous Georgia Supreme Court on March 22, 2010. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the 2005 law “clearly nullifies the jury’s findings of fact regarding damages and thereby undermines the jury’s basic function. *** Consequently, we are compelled to conclude that the caps infringe on a party’s constitutional right. *** The very existence of the caps, in any amount, is violative of the right to trial by jury.” Adam Malone, the Atlanta, Georgia lawyer who represented the plaintiff in the successful constitutional challenge stated that: “The bedrock of our democracy depends upon our ability to self govern at the ballot box and in the jury box. *** Any attempt by the government to invade either is an assault on what separates America from the rest of the world.”

Louisiana’s $500,000 cap on medical malpractice damages passed the Louisiana Legislature in the 1970’s and includes both non-economic and loss of earnings and support. In 1985, the Louisiana Supreme Court in Sibley v. Board of Supervisors, 477 So.2d 1094 (La.1985), declared Louisiana’s cap on medical malpractice damages constitutional. Louisiana’s medical malpractice cap was later declared unconstitutional by the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal in 2006 in the Taylor and Arrington cases, but the ruling was vacated by the Louisiana Supreme Court on February 2, 2007 on procedural grounds and remanded to the trial court for another trial on the constitutional challenge. Representatives of the medical industry, trial lawyers, and the Louisiana Legislature had numerous meetings in an attempt to reach a consensus on increasing Louisiana’s cap on medical malpractice damages, while at the same time, reducing the number of frivolous medical malpractice claims and reducing the costs associated with the medical review panel process. Not surprisingly, no consensus could be reached.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice in Louisiana, contact the Baton Rouge, Louisiana medical malpractice attorneys at Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews. Email Louisiana injury lawyers or call (800) 929-7481 to schedule a free consultation.