Medical Caps

The Missouri Supreme Court recently ruled that caps on damages for Medical Malpractice lawsuits was unconstitutional, adding its ruling to an increasing number of State Supreme Courts to make the same determination. Caps on medical malpractice lawsuits were introduced by legislators representing insurance companies beginning in the late 1990s. The “claimed” rationale for caps was to reduce the rise in malpractice insurance premiums which they “claimed” were the result of excessive jury verdicts. The rise of insurance premiums actually accelerated during the post cap period, probably because insurance premiums are unrelated to jury verdicts and are mostly due to bad investments by the insurance companies. From a practical perspective caps are a total failure, but from a legal and a moral perspective, caps are an injustice and immoral.

For you right wing, less government ideologues consider this situation: you are a juror in a trial. You have sacrificed your time and your money to do your duty as a citizen. After carefully listening to evidence for 2 weeks you enter into deliberations with fellow jurors. After carefully considering the evidence, you all come to a unanimous verdict that you all feel is just and fair. You are proud of your work and your decision and just as you begin to announce the verdict you are interrupted by representative of the government. He says “The government has decided what the verdict will be in this case, and the Court will disregard the jury.”  That is exactly what caps are: the government of insurance companies over-ruling your verdicts and denying your rights.

Other State Supreme Courts will likely follow the inevitable legal conclusions. For example, the Georgia Supreme Court (no liberal bastion there) has ruled that caps are unconstitutional. However, many other Supreme Courts are dominated by Justices elected with the largesse of insurance/corporate company money and will refuse to follow the law until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in (a scary prospect in itself).     

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