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Nicoletti Walker Law Group June 12, 2014

Months after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that part of Florida’s medical malpractice law was unconstitutional, the Court is taking up another case that could dramatically affect many Floridians who have sustained injuries because of medical malpractice. The new case involves a woman, Kimberly Ann Miles, who suffered complications in early 2003 after she underwent an unnecessary surgery on her leg. A jury awarded her and her husband $1.5 million in damages for her pain and suffering, but a court reduced her award to $500,000 because of the limits on medical malpractice awards that were passed later in 2003. The issue is whether the damage limits passed in 2003 should apply to injuries that occurred before the law took effect.

The 2003 Law That Limits Malpractice Awards

The cap on medical malpractice awards was championed by then-Governor Jeb Bush and other Republican lawmakers. This was one of the biggest political battles that Florida had seen in years. The focus of the debate was whether there should be a cap on non-economic damages, more commonly known as “pain-and-suffering” damages. According to the attorney for the physician being sued by the Miles family, “It is clear that the Legislature weighed the depth of the medical malpractice crisis against any potential unfairness or due process concerns that would be implicated by the application of the caps. In doing so, it only applied the caps to plaintiffs who had not yet served notices of intent or complaints and thus could not have conceivably had any tangible expectations of a particular award for non-economic damages.”

Florida Supreme Court’s Past Rulings on Medical Malpractice Caps

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2003 law could not be used to limit the damages that a family could receive for the pain-and-suffering that arises out of a wrongful death lawsuit. The case brought by the Miles family is different because it does not involve a wrongful death case. Kimberly Miles was diagnosed with melanoma in 2002 and had a tumor removed. When she saw the physician who she is now accusing of medical malpractice, he said that the first procedure did not remove all of the melanoma and told her that she needed an additional surgery. Kimberly needed to be hospitalized for an infection that was caused by the unnecessary procedure.

Why This Case is Important

If the Miles family wins this case, it could have an effect on other families who have been awarded pain-and-suffering damages stemming from medical malpractice lawsuits. Families who have been awarded limited pain-and-suffering damages because of the 2003 law may be entitled to larger awards if the Florida Supreme Court rules additional parts of that law unconstitutional.

If you have been awarded damages for pain and suffering (resulting from a medical malpractice lawsuit) that have been reduced because of the caps passed by the Florida legislature, then you should contact Mike Walker Law in Clearwater right away. In the near future, it may be possible for you to seek an increase in your award so you can be fully compensated for the pain and suffering that you experienced. Attorneys at Mike Walker Law can help you obtain the awards to which you are legally entitled.