In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled yesterday that medical malpractice damage caps violate the State Constitution. In doing so, the state’s highest court has overturned the arbitrary limits on the pain and suffering of the victims of medical negligence.
According to the 29-page opinion, authored by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, Georgia’s cap on noneconomic damages in malpractice cases encroaches on a victim’s constitutional right to have a jury determine the facts of his or her case – including the amount of damages sustained. The Court’s ruling affirmed a $1.265 million jury verdict in favor of former real estate agent Betty Nestlehutt, who was severely scarred after a 2006 face-lift operation.
This case is just the latest example of “tort reform” measures being struck down. Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a similar ruling.
Michigan has some of the most anti-victim, pro-insurance company laws in the country. Our state’s malpractice cap, like those in Illinois and Georgia, serves to deprive injured people of their right to have a jury decide how much compensation they deserve. The Constitution of the State of Michigan guarantees everyone – plaintiffs and defendants – the right to trial by jury.
Hopefully, the Michigan Supreme Court will have an opportunity to review the constitutionality of malpractice damage caps in the near future. If the recent decisions in Illinois and Georgia offer any guidance, victims of medical negligence might finally be able to receive just compensation for their injuries.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.