A month after the Illinois Supreme Court repealed a law capping damages in medical malpractice cases in that state, the Georgia Supreme Court followed a similar path. In ruling that the state legislature may not put restrictions on medical malpractice awards determined by juries, the Court overturned a 2005 state law that capped malpractice awards at $350,000 for pain and suffering.
“The very existence of the caps, in any amount, is violative of the right to trial by jury,” Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein wrote in the decision.
Since the 1980’s several states have also rejected damage caps in malpractice cases including New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. These are important rulings for consumers that restore the rightful role of the judicial system as well as the crucial role of juries in our system.
The Georgia case involved a 71 year old woman, Betty Nestlehutt, who was permanently disfigured after a botched surgery.