On August 2, 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court, in Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, struck down the $350,000 non-economic (“pain and suffering damages”) cap on damages in medical malpractice cases implemented in 2005 by the Missouri legislature. An important caveat to this decision, is that it only applies to common law causes of action. The $350,000 pain and suffering cap remains in effect in medical negligence statutorily created causes of action, such as claims for Wrongful Death arising out of medical malpractice. The Missouri upheld the cap in such cases earlier in 2012, in Sanders v. Ahmed. The Missouri Supreme Court found that because tort actions (such as medical malpractice), including the claim for relief, were cognizable at common law, before the Missouri Constitution was enacted, the right to have the relief determined by the jury remains a protected right.
If you live in Missouri, and have questions or comments about the applicability of this decision, call my office at (314) 872-2120 or 1-800-431-3212 to discuss.