In a case that experts argued could have been avoided, a Florida court
of appeals upheld a verdict awarded to a small child who suffered catastrophic
brain injury. Soon after the case was decided, the Florida Supreme Court
took up a case that reviews whether Florida’s non-economic damages
cap violates our state’s constitution.
If those caps are upheld, then this family’s verdict will be diminished
greatly in the future. Currently there is much conflict over whether the
damages cap found in
Florida Statutes 766.118(2). That statute limits the amount of non-economic damages a person can recover
in a case to $500,000. That means that even if a jury awards a victim
of medical practice a verdict of, say $2 million, under the law a judge
would be obligated to reduce the award to $500,000.
A case like that went to the Fourth District Court of Appeals in 2014,
and that court ruled that limiting damages in that way violated due process
provisions of the Florida Constitution. The reasoning of that ruling was
that there is no damages limitation in normal negligence cases, so medical
malpractice cases should not be treated any differently. Now the Highest
Court in Florida will decide whether that is true or not.
Background and Facts
The case that brought about this ruling is truly a tragic one. In 2006,
a mother took her young child to the hospital for treatment. After two
weeks of treatment the child was transferred to a children’s hospital,
but suffered a stroke. As it turned out, the young boy was suffering from
herpes and from a virus that was not detected, but if they had been treated
earlier the stroke would have been avoided, according to experts.
As a result of the stroke, the child will suffer for the rest of his life.
He is no longer functional in ways that will allow him to care for himself
in the future. He is trapped in a life of round-the-clock medical care.
In the wake of this discovery and ongoing struggle, the family sued the
hospital that should have detected the illnesses and treated them prior
to the boy suffering a stroke. In court, the jury awarded the boy and
family a verdict worth many millions of dollars.
As should be expected in cases like these, the hospital and doctors involved
appealed the result. Butthe court of appeals did not agree with their arguments. The first argument the hospital and doctors made was that the award should
be reduced because most of the care the child will receive in the future
will be provided free of charge by federal medical programs. Of course
that argument was rejected as the Florida SUpreme Court recently held
that evidence of free health care provided by the federal government cannot
be used to reduce a verdict.
Now the case depends on how the Florida Supreme Court rules on a similar
case. Victim advocates across the state are watching the court closely
to see what happens.
Panama City Brain Injury Attorney
If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury,
contact us. At
The Pittman Firm we sue those responsible for inflicting lifelong damages on unsuspecting
victims. We do everything in our power to ensure that those who are injured
are fairly and justly compensated.
See related blog posts:
Defective Medical Devices and Strict Liability;
Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Interstate Injury Claims.