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Missouri Noneconomic Med Mal Damages Bill Languishes

Few Kansas City residents likely spend much time thinking about the possibility that they, or a loved one, will be the victim of an action that constitutes medical malpractice. Despite this, individuals throughout the state of Missouri are the recipients of negligent care at the hands of medical providers. Sometimes, the negligent care is obvious and injuries are suffered. Other times, a patient is never the wiser that something has occurred.

Just as few are probably not thinking about needed to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, many may not have been aware that legislation regarding such claims was recently before state lawmakers. HB112 sought to reinstate a cap on noneconomic damages awarded in Missouri medical malpractice lawsuits.

The previous cap on noneconomic damages was struck down last summer by the Missouri Supreme Court. More specifically the court’s decision found that the law imposing the cap violated an individual’s right to a jury trial because residents of the state have a common-law right when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit to seek damages. In an effort to reinstate the cap, the bill sought to eliminate that common-law right. In exchange, a statutory right to sue would be created.

Despite hours of discussion, the bill was never voted on. When the session ended on May 17, the bill died. Had it passed, a cap on noneconomic damages of $350,000 would have been in place.

This issue is not one that is likely to go away. We will certainly provide updates on it as they arise.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Debate Stalls on Missouri Malpractice Liability Limits Legislation,” Chris Blank, May 2, 2013