After several years of debate, the Missouri State Senate on March 11, 2015, voted to increase the non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. In a bipartisan compromise, State Senators agreed to statutory language to reinstate medical malpractice caps. The caps proposed by the Senate would be $400,000 in most cases. In catastrophic injury cases (defined as paralysis, brain injury or loss of vision), the cap escalates to $700,000. The proposed bill also increases the current existing $350,000 cap on non-economic damages in wrongful death cases to $700,000. All caps would increase each year by 1.7%. The Senate proposes circumventing the Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling in Watts v Cox Medical Centers by invalidating the common law medical malpractice cause of action and then, in turn, passing a statutory cause of action in its place.
The House and the Senate must now reconcile competing versions of the bill before final approval and submission to Governor Nixon.
By Jeff Dunn