A Louisiana appeals court has overturned the state’s cap on damages in medical malpractice cases. In its ruling, the court called the cap unconsitutional.
“The state offered no evidence in this case…to refute the fact that the cap discriminates against Taylor and her parents by limiting their general damage recovery to a single $500,000 payment, while allowing other less severely injured victims to fully recover their general damage awards,” Judge Sylvia Cooks wrote in the court’s lead opinion.
The case involved newborn Taylor Oliver who was seriously injured after being treated by a nurse who held only a high school diploma. Taylor and her parents made 32 separate trips to the clinic and Taylor was prescribed 30 different types of medicines. According to Louisiana law, the registered nurse practitioner, had a statutory duty to consult a physician but she never did.
When Taylor was 14 months old, her parents took her to a hospital which diagnosed her with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. A clear sign of the disease is swelling and bruising around the eyes which Taylor had since the age of 6 months. If the correct diagnosis is made and treatment initiated within the first year of life, the survivor has a 90% chance of an event-free recovery. Unfortunately, in Taylor’s case it wasn’t discovered until she was 14 months old. Because of the cancer, Taylor’s head is misshapen, her eyes are abnormally large, and she is legally blind.
Taylor’s parents, Joe and Helena Oliver, sued the clinic and prevailed at trial with a jury verdict of $6.2 million. However, the award was reduced to $500,000 due to the state cap on damage awards.
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