Last Thursday, February 4, 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court declared the Illinois medical malpractice law unconstitutional because it unfairly and unjustly took away an injured person’s right to have a jury determine the extent of his or her pain and suffering. The high court in Illinois decided that the law passed by the legislature violated the Illinois State Constitution’s separation of powers clause by overreaching into the deliberations of juries and the decisions of judges.
Separation of powers? Sounds familiar.
The Michigan Constitution (PDF) reads:
Section 2. The powers of government are divided into three branches; legislative, executive and judicial. No person belonging to one department shall exercise
the powers properly belonging to another, except in the cases
expressly provided in this constitution.
Guess what, it also expressly talks about a jury trial.
The right of trial by jury shall remain, but shall be waived in all civil cases unless demanded by one of the parties in the manner prescribed by law. In all civil cases tried by 12 jurors a verdict shall be received when 10 jurors agree.
What kind of jury determinations are we talking about here? Well, in this case, the jury will be able to decide what a child’s pain and suffering is worth when that child was injured and suffered irreversible brain damage due to medical negligence and no fault of her own. That’s the type of questions our nation has always left in the hands of jurors, who take in all the evidence at trial. It’s not the decision of a distant legislator who got big time donations from hospitals and insurance companies. Michigan’s Supreme Court should take notice of the logic and reason utilized by the Illinois Supreme Court. That’s the kind of justice our nation needs.
If it can be unconstitutional in Illinois, why can’t it be unconsitutional in Michigan? We’re only separated by a lake.
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.