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Decision Challenges Florida’s Cap on Medical Malpractice Claims

According to a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, a court decision could end up serving as “another blow to a controversial 2003 law that limits the amounts of money injured patients can receive in medical malpractice cases.” The case being discussed involved a dental assistant who underwent carpal tunnel surgery and ended up with a perforated esophagus. The assistant, Susan Kalitan, was injured as a result of tubes being placed in her mouth and esophagus as part of the pre-surgery anesthesia process.

The decision, issued by the Florida 4th District Court of Appeals, focused on a 2003 law that limits the amount a plaintiff can claim for pain and suffering – also known as non-economic damages – in a Florida medical malpractice claim. According to the ruling, the Florida law is unconstitutional. This decision comes on the heels of a Florida Supreme Court opinion that rejected the law’s limitations on non-economic damages, although that case specifically pertained to a wrongful death case. However, in the case at hand, the court’s ruling specifically cited the Supreme Court decision, saying that the damage limits “violate equal-protection rights under the State of Florida’s Constitution”.

Under the 2003 law, the cap on damages is dependent on such factors as the numbers of claimants in the lawsuits and the types of defendants involved. In the Kalitan suit, which was originally filed back in 2008, named several defendants, including the North Broward Hospital District, an anesthesiologist, a certified registered nurse anesthetist and the company contracted to provide the hospital district with anesthesiologists and related staff.

According to the complaint, when the plaintiff woke up the day after her carpal tunnel surgery she was experiencing severe chest and back pain. She was subsequently rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with an infection from a perforated esophagus, which required additional surgery on her chest and next and being placed in a drug-induced coma for a period of three weeks.

In the trial, the jury awarded Kalitan $4.7 million, with $4 million being for non-economic damages. However, this decision was overturned by a circuit court per the 2003 law, thus reducing the non-economic damages to $2 million. The appeals decision restored the jury’s original award for Kalitan’s pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one are the victim of an Orlando medical malpractice claim, there is no need to settle for the statutory damage caps. Per this appeals ruling, and the Florida Supreme Court decision, you now have a claim that any and all caps on available damages are unconstitutional. To ensure you get the compensation you deserve, call the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. today at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for your free initial consultation.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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