The State of Wisconsin’s cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits
has been deemed unconstitutional. The decision of the state appellate
court clears the way for a Milwaukee woman to receive the full $16.5 million
she was awarded for pain and suffering in the wake of a serious medical
mistake. Ascaris Mayo, a 57-year-old mother of four, lost all four limbs
after doctors failed to properly diagnose a Strep A infection.
"We conclude that the statutory cap on non-economic damages is unconstitutional
on its face," Judge Joan Kessler wrote on behalf of the unanimous
First District Court of Appeals panel. She added that "Wisconsin's
cap on non-economic medical malpractice damages
always reduces non-economic damagesonly for the class of the most severely injured victims who have been awarded
damages exceeding the cap, yet always allows full damages to the less
severely injured malpractice victims."
detailed in the court’s opinion, Mayo sought treatment at Columbia St. Mary's Hospital in Milwaukee,
complaining of abdominal pain and a high fever. The doctors did not properly
diagnose Mayo’s septic infection, which could have been treated
with antibiotics at that point. "Instead, Mayo was told to follow
up with her personal gynecologist for her history of uterine fibroids,"
Mayo instead sought treatment at a different hospital, which properly diagnosed
her condition. "Ultimately, the sepsis caused nearly all of Mayo's
organs to fail and led to dry gangrene in all four of Mayo's extremities,
necessitating the amputation of all of Mayo's extremities," Kessler wrote.
California’s Medical Malpractice Cap
Wisconsin law caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases at
$750,000. In California, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA),
which was enacted in 1975, imposes a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages
in medical malpractice cases. This means that when a
person is injured or dies due to medical negligence, California law says his or her pain and suffering are worth a maximum
of $250,000, no matter how egregious the injuries.
Even though it was enacted more than four decades ago, MICRA has not been
adjusted for inflation. So, while the cost of living has increased dramatically
over the past 42 years, the damages limit has remained static. In fact,
the current buying power of $250,000 in 1975 dollars equals approximately $70,000.
To date, efforts to amend California’s med mal cap have been unsuccessful.
The Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act would have raised the cap to
$1.1 million and permanently indexed it to inflation. However, the measure
failed in 2015.
If you know someone who has suffered serious harm due to a medical mistake,
or if you’ve personally suffered at the hands of a medical professional,
the Law Offices of Robert Vaage is here to help. Call us at (619) 739-4040 or contact us online
to schedule a meeting with one of our San Diego medical malpractice lawyer.
Consultations are free until your case is won.