Springfield, MO 417-222-4878
Joplin, MO 417-222-4878

Appeal involves issue of noneconomic damages in wrongful death med mal cases

Noneconomic damages can be a very important aspect of medical malpractice litigation, particularly in cases where economic damages are—for whatever reason—not adequate to justly compensate an injured patient. Unfortunately, some states put caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, including Missouri.

At present, there is a court challenge to a state law capping the amount of noneconomic damages plaintiffs may receive in medical malpractice cases. The 2005 law capped noneconomic damages is medical malpractice cases at $350,000, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that caps on noneconomic damages were unconstitutional. That was a personal injury case, however, and the issue on appeal is whether the cap applies in medical malpractice cases involving allegations of wrongful death. 

The appeal is based on the 2011 death of a woman whose life ended after a St. Louis-area cardiologist performed a heart test which blocked blood flow to her heart. The jury in that case awarded $9 million in noneconomic damages, but the trial court reduced the award to $350,000 as per the 2005 cap. The reason for the court’s decision in that case was that limiting noneconomic caps in medical malpractice cases violated a plaintiff’s right to a jury trial.

The issue on appeal is specifically what lawmakers intended with the 2005 cap. On one side, the argument is that lawmakers intended to cap noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases, but not personal injury cases. On the other side, the argument is that lawmakers intended to cap noneconomic damages in all cases.

We’ll continue looking at this issue in our next post.  


St. Louis Public Radio, “Missouri Supreme Court to decide whether wrongful death cases are subject to caps on damages,” Marshall Griffin, Oct. 21, 2015.

Daily Journal, “Family challenges state caps on damages in medical malpractice cases to Missouri Supreme Court,” Summer Ballentine Oct. 21, 2015.

Claims Journal, “Missouri Medical Malpractice Limits on Noneconomic Damages Challenged Again,” Summer Ballentine, Oct. 23, 2015. 


Passenger Fault in Car Accident

Can a passenger ever be responsible for a car accident?  As the person behind the wheel, the driver is almost always responsible for making sure their passengers get where they need to go in a safe and legal way. But in some very specific circumstances, the passenger might be at fault: Driver responsibility Even if a passenger is distracting or encourages the driver to engage in reckless behavior, accidents are

Car Accidents

Liability questions arise when self-driving cars crash

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a noise? If no one is driving a car and the car crashes, is anyone responsible for the damage? These two potentially maddening questions are really not so different from each other. And as a result, many Americans are concerned about the potential liability implications of allowing self-driving vehicles to operate

Brain Injuries

Profits Ahead of People

That’s where insurance company priorities lie. They are in the business of putting profits ahead of people. This is never more obvious than when a person is in a Jasper County car accident and sustains a traumatic brain injury that can require surgery, long-term treatment and rehabilitative therapies. That is precisely when an insurance company will try to wriggle out of its responsibility: when a seriously injured person needs medical

Contact Us.

    Submitting the form is not necessarily establishing an attorney-client relationship