Georgia Supreme Court Nixes Medical Malpractice Caps

doctor mask

In a unanimous vote yesterday, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled against limits on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice suits.

The statute that limits non-economic damages to $350,000 for a single defendant is unconstitutional “by encroaching on the right to a jury trial, the governmental separation of powers, and the right to equal protection,” wrote Chief Justice Carol Hunstein in her opinion.

The ruling echoes a similar conclusion by the Supreme Court of Illinois early last month, which held in a 4-2 ruling that caps infringe on a court’s ability to assign appropriate damages.

The Fulton County Daily Report outlined some interesting political complications:

Hunstein’s 2006 re-election was challenged by big spending through a group whose explicit goal was to preserve the 2005 tort reform package. And Justices Harold D. Melton and David E. Nahmias, the two high court appointees of tort-reform backer Gov. Sonny Perdue, went along with the core of Monday’s decision without voicing any equivocation.

With Georgia’s ruling, the number of states that have overturned cap laws climbs to 12, while 16 states have upheld the laws.

Read more at the Fulton County Daily Record and Georgia’s full opinion below.


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