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Government, Politics & Issues

Medical Malpractice Cap Restoration Bill May Not Survive 2013 Session

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(Via Flickr/Rosemary)
A doctor's stethoscope

Efforts in Missouri to restore caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits are in limbo.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled last year that the state’s $350,000 cap was unconstitutional and by design denied injured patients the right to a jury trial.  House Bill 112, passed by the Missouri House back in March, would restore the cap while placing the right to sue in written state statute.  It's currently a recognized right in Missouri of English common law.  On Tuesday, the Missouri Senate spent more than eight hours debating the bill.  State Senator Jason Holsman (D, Kansas City) says $350,000 is not enough for someone who’s suffered a medical mistake.

"Human beings operating on human beings (is) not a perfect scenario," Holsman said.  "All I’m saying is that $350,000 leads to backroom settlements, not juries' discovery of facts."

The bill's Senate handler, Dan Brown (R, Rolla), laid the bill aside after efforts to negotiate a higher cap failed. 

"We had negotiated about as much as we can," Brown told reporters.  "We offered $500,000 (and) they wouldn’t talk on that one – last offer I heard was $625,000, and no go."

Brown says he’s willing to "stand on my head" if that’s what it takes to get caps restored on non-economic damages, but he also expressed doubt that it will happened before May 17th, the day the legislative session ends.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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