The Missouri Supreme Court ruling affirmed the application of caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. Less than a decade ago, the same Court had decided those caps were unconstitutional.
The difference? When the limitations on noneconomic damages were stricken down in 2012, the Court held the caps violated Missouri citizens’ constitutional right to a jury trial – including Missourians’ rights to have a jury decide the full and fair amount of their damages. Because medical negligence cases were based on common law, that pre-existing constitutional right was violated, and laws imposing caps were unconstitutional.
Missouri Destoys The Common Law Cause Of Action
Because this was inconvenient to its puppeteers (big insurance), the Missouri state legislature in 2017 destroyed the common law cause of action. They enacted RSMo § 538.210, replacing the common law right with a statutory cause of action. So, while you could still sue negligent doctors and hospitals, now that right was bestowed only by statute – and not common law. The legislature was then free to impose caps that would otherwise be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ruling affirmed that legislation hostile to Missourian’s rights is not unconstitutional so long as the legislature does it in two steps, and not one. With this judicially-approved green light, there is no telling which other cause of actions will soon share a similar fate. Our state legislature once again shows that they are disconnected from the interests of the Missouri citizenry.
Be sure to contact Cantor Injury Law if you have any law questions, questions about this Missouri supreme court ruling, or if you have a case that you would like to have us take a look at.
FAQs About Missouri Supreme Court Ruling On Medical Malpractice Caps
Q: What Did The Missouri Supreme Court Recently Decide About Caps On Damages In Medical Malpractice Cases?
A: The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the application of caps on damages in medical malpractice cases, reversing its stance from less than a decade ago when it had declared such caps unconstitutional.
Q: Why Did The Court Previously Find Caps On Damages Unconstitutional?
A: In 2012, the Court held that caps on noneconomic damages violated Missouri citizens’ constitutional right to a jury trial. This included the right to have a jury decide the full and fair amount of their damages in medical negligence cases based on common law.
Q: What Changed After The 2012 Decision Regarding The Common Law Cause Of Action?
A: In 2017, driven largely by insurance interests, the Missouri state legislature abolished the common law cause of action. They introduced RSMo § 538.210, which replaced the common law right with a statutory cause of action. Thus, while individuals could still sue negligent medical professionals, the right to do so was now only based on statute, rather than common law.
Q: How Does The Recent Supreme Court Ruling Impact The Rights Of Missourians?
A: The ruling affirmed that the legislature can enact legislation which may be hostile to Missourians’ rights, as long as it is done in two steps rather than directly. This sets a concerning precedent where other rights and causes of action might be similarly affected in the future.
Q: Who Should I Contact If I Have Questions About This Ruling Or Other Legal Inquiries?
A: For questions about the Missouri Supreme Court ruling, or other legal matters, or if you have a case you’d like to discuss, contact Cantor Injury Law.
Contact us at (314) 628-9999
to schedule a free consultation with our team.