The Supreme Court of Illinois, on Thursday, Febraury 4, 2010, declared the Illinois statute that limited compensation for pain, suffering and economic damages in medical malpractice actions unconstitutional. According to the court, the cap on damages violated the Illinois Constitution’s provision requiring separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government.
Texas’s statutory caps on non-economic damages was similarly declared unconstitutional; however, with the assistance of millions of dollars of advertising money from big insurance, the state passed a constitutional amendment that allows such caps in medical malpractice cases. Texas’ caps on non-economic damages is $250,000 per healthcare provider, a paltry sum for someone whose life has been devastated by medical negligence.
Now, some in the federal government want to pass a federal cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases that would apply throughout the entire 50 states. That is simply wrong. The U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury and prohibits the legislature from interfering with the judiciary. However, with health-care reform being hotly debated, do not expect the insurance companies and their lobbyists to stop their fight.