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Arbitrary cap on damages held unconstitutional in Louisiana


GDO Report on Georgia Personal Injury Law.

Yet another state Supreme Court has held that an arbitrary cap on damages violates the state constitution. 

In Arrinton v. ER Physicians Group, APMC, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a $500,000.00 cap on medical malpractice damages was unconstitutional as failing to provide the plaintiffs an adequate remedy” as guaranteed under the provisions of La.Const. art. 1, § 22. The court cited a long list of cases in other states holding such caps unconstitutional under state constitutional provisions.

In Georgia, the tort reform lobbyists won passage in 2005 of a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. They won with illusory promises that doctors' malpractice insurance premiums would go down.  The only way premiums will go down is if the legialature passes a law requiring disclosure of insurance company finances and underwriting.

Meanwhile, the folks who hate the civil justice system and can't stand the idea of little guys having access to justice continue to organize well-funded campaigns to pick off state Supreme Court justice around the country and intimidate the rest of our judges. See Justice for Sale in West Virginia?  In Georgia, we see that in the campaign of Mike Wiggins, who was an associate at two large law firms and a political appointee.  He has never tried a case in a trial court and never argued a case in a Georgia appellate court. However, despite a complete lack of courroom experience, he is waging a campaign with virtually  unlimited  corporate funding to unseat Justice Carol Hunstein.  He apparently picked her because she is "vulnerable," e.g., a one-legged, non-politcal woman judge with a Jewish sounding name.

I certainly have some sympathy for my doctor friends and businessman friends who feel vulnerable in the court system.  However, the answer is not to impose a one-size-fits-all cap on damages, to abrogate state or federal constitutional law, or to terrorize independent, impartial, nonpartisan judges.  Remember, my friends in the business and medical communities, while you may think you are more likely to become a defendant, the reality is that you or a family member may just as likely become a victim of a grievous injury.  If you take away the civil justice system today, it won't be there for your family tomorrow.

 

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