S.M. Oliva on Capping Medical Malpractice Judgments


Credit: bloomsberries / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

On March 13, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a legislative cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases under the Equal Protection Clause of the state's constitution. Attempts to impose such limits on medical malpractice awards have been a staple of conservative tort reform efforts for decades. Yet the question of their constitutionality has divided courts across the country. One side believes legislatures should not overrule the decisions of judges and juries with respect to non-economic damages; the other believes judges should not second-guess the policy determinations made by legislatures. S.M. Oliva argues that both sides have failed to address the real problem, which is the inherently arbitrary nature of non-economic damage awards.