Caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits – set at $250,000 per incident under Gov. Jeb Bush – are unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court decided this soundly – first in the 2015 case of Estate of McCall v. U.S. (medical malpractice wrongful death cases) and again in 2017 with its ruling in North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan (medical malpractice personal injury cases).
But hospitals in Florida have found a loophole to this in the form of arbitration agreements. This was recently underscored in a case decided by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal. In Plantation General Hospital v. Belzi, the appellate panel reversed a $4 million damage award and remanded to the lower court for a recalculation of damages – specifically to be in accordance with the provisions of F.S. 766.207, which still allows the $250,000 non-economic damage cap in cases handled by “voluntary arbitration.”
The Belzi case involved the death of a 24-year-old wife and mother who lost so much oxygen during childbirth, she was left in a vegetative state and died three months later. Her family filed a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and the hospital alleging their medical negligence resulted in the young woman’s death. Her child, delivered via emergency c-section, survived. Continue reading →