Florida Supreme Court’s Decision in McCall v. U.S:

Florida Supreme Court’s Decision in McCall v. U.S:

  • Determined that the statutory caps on wrongful death non-economic damages (i.e., mental pain and suffering) provided in Section 766.118, Florida Statutes were unconstitutional because they violated the right to equal protection under Article I, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution
  • Importantly, the analysis of the court was limited only to wrongful death cases, as Court noted that the legal analyses for personal injury damages and wrongful death damages are not the same.  The Weingrad v. Miles case, currently set for oral argument, will define what happens for cases that do not involve a wrongful death.
  • The Court held that statutory caps on wrongful death non-economic damages violated the Equal Protection Clause under the rational basis test because it imposed unfair and illogical burdens on injured parties when an act of medical negligence gives rise to multiple claimants – in such circumstances, medical malpractice claimants did not receive the same rights to full compensation because of arbitrarily diminished compensation (more compensation for each claimant when there were fewer survivors of decedent).  The questions remains: could a wrongful death cap be constitutional if all survivors (single or multiple) are treated the same way?
  • Additionally, the Court held that statutory caps on wrongful death non-economic damages did not bear a rational relationship to the stated purpose that the caps were purported to address – the alleged medical malpractice insurance crisis in Florida
  • The Court stated that the finding by the Legislature in enacting the caps that Florida was in the midst of a bona fide medical malpractice crisis was “dubious” and “questionable”  -- possibility that Plaintiffs’ attorneys could challenge the continued constitutionality of NICA and the pre-suit statutes (including voluntary binding arbitration) based on the lack of any present or recent crisis requiring these tort reforms

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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