Not willing to accept the voice of the people as expressed through jury verdicts, the Florida Legislature has imposed arbitrary limits on how much individuals harmed by medical negligence/malpractice can be compensated for their losses.
Florida law recognizes two types of recoveries for people harmed by negligence, economic and non-economic. Economic losses include past and future income and medical expenses. In broad terms, non-economic losses are pain and suffering.
America’s jury system has its roots in Mosaic Law — Mosaic Law and American Jurisprudence. The system works.
Parties to lawsuits present evidence at trial. Following instructions from trial judges on how to weigh and consider evidence, juries deliberate carefully and thoughtfully behind closed doors — see, 12 Angry Men (1957 film). For the most part, juries get it right. On the rare occasions they don’t, their mistakes are corrected by trial judges and appellate courts.
Civil jury verdicts enable the powerless to hold the powerful accountable for wrongdoing. Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature opposes this principle, and makes its view known every legislative session with proposed legislation aimed at neutralizing the importance of civil jury verdicts. (But for push-back from organizations like the Florida Justice Association, of which I am a proud member, the Legislature’s efforts at neutralization would be even more severe, the political equivalent of castration.) Arbitrary and capricious, one-size-fits-all damage cap limits, coming under the guise of “Tort Reform” or justified by the myth of a “Medical Malpractice Crisis” — (See this blog: Medical Malpractice Myths — are a particular legislative favorite.
The Legislature comes down hard on the victims of medical negligence. Its dirty work is contained in Florida Statute 766.118. The arbitray and capricious damage caps have no respect for the unique facts of individual cases.
Hit especially hard under 766.118 are Medicaid recipients. (Medicaid is a federal program that provides medical assistance to individuals who cannot afford to pay their own medical costs. See 42 U.S.C. §§1396 et seq.) Section 766.118(6) limits their non-economic damages even more dramatically than it limits the other victims of negligence.
Arbitrary and capricious caps offend the spirit of Mosaic Law, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.
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