Another Challenge to Medical Malpractice Award Caps
West Virginia enacted a cap on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases in 1986. Now that cap is being challenged in the West Virginia Supreme Court. Already this year Illinois and Georgia have had similar damage caps declared unconstitutional.
The West Virginia case involves James McDonald who developed rhabdomyolysis after being administered a combination of drugs at a West Virginia hospital. McDonald and his wife sued and took the case to trial where a jury awarded the couple $1.5 million for pain and suffering and $129,000 for medical expenses and lost wages. Because of the 1986 law, the jury award was reduced to $500,000 for both of them.
The McDonalds have decided to fight. They argue that the cap law is unconstitutional because it interferes with their right to a trial by jury and prevents the jury from making the final decision in the case.
It will be interesting to see if the West Virginia Supreme Court follows the lead in similar cases in Georgia and Illinois. If the McDonalds prevail, their victory will be a vindication for all of us who have a right to a trial by jury.