Wisconsin’s cap on medical malpractice awards for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering is unconstitutional, a split state Supreme Court ruled today. (7/13/05)
The court ruled 4-3 that the Legislature’s rationale for implementing the caps on noneconomic damages was too broad and speculative, and ruled the law violated the Wisconsin Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.
The court said its decision does not strike down all caps under Wisconsin law in medical malpractice cases. Rather, its decision applies only to those for noneconomic damages, awards meant to compensate for mental distress, loss of enjoyment of normal activity and loss of society and companionship.
From the Green Bay Press-Gazette
The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to remove the cap on settlements in medical malpractice cases — based on the case of an 8-year-old town of Abrams boy — has medical officials forecasting higher costs and a greater shortage of physicians.
“I think the ruling is extremely damaging to the medical fabric of the state of Wisconsin,” said Jeff Mason, chief executive officer of Bay Care Clinic in Green Bay. “Malpractice premiums will have to go up and this will make physician recruitment and retention even more difficult than it is.”
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