Monday, March 22, 2010

Georgia Supreme Court strikes down cap on damages in med mal cases

The Georgia Supreme Court has been busy deciding cases related to tort reform initiatives. Less than a week ago, it decided to uphold a measure that made it more difficult for plaintiffs to support claims for malpractice against emergency room personnel (here) and a rule that forces a party to pay the other side's attorney fees in certain cases (here). Now comes news that the Court has struck down a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, declaring the cap to be a violation of the right to trial by jury. The case is Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, P.C. v. Nestlehutt (available here). The Court ruled that by "requiring a court to reduce a noneconomic damages award determined by a jury that exceeds the statutory limit, OCGA Sec. 51-13-1 clearly nullifies the jury's findings of fact regarding damages and thereby undermines the jury's basic function." Thanks to Day on Torts for the information and link. UPDATE 3/23/10: Here is a link to an article on the subject from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog UPDATE 3/24/10: Here are links to the version of the story in and UPDATE 3/25/10: Here is a link to the story in the Tort Deform blog.

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