Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Damage Caps in Medical Malpractice Cases

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has reversed a 2005 opinion and held that a cap of $750,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is constitutional.

The female plaintiff in the case lost her arms and legs as a result of a medical error.  A jury determined that her pain, suffering, and disfigurement had a value of $16.5 million.  However, Wisconsin’s highest court deferred to legislation limiting such awards to a maximum of $750,000 in all cases, regardless of the severity of the injuries.

A dissent was filed by Justice Bradley, joined by Justice Abrahamson. “Only those with the most catastrophic injuries will be denied a full and fair damages award,” Bradley wrote. “It makes no sense that those who are injured most get the least.”

The majority opinion was written by the Chief Justice.  He explained the decision to overrule the 2005 court decision that such caps were unconstitutional by saying “erroneously invaded the province of the legislature and applied an erroneous standard of review.”

Read the entire opinion here.