Florida Supreme Court Addresses Retroactive Application of Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages

Florida Supreme Court Addresses Retroactive Application of Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages

In June, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments in a case, Miles & Haynes v. Weingrad, M.D., that may have a significant impact on Florida’s controversial medical malpractice law. The case, which involves Miami-Dade county resident, Kimberly Ann Miles, comes on the heels of the Court’s March decision in which it invalidated a portion of Florida’s 2003 caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice wrongful death cases. Effective September 15, 2003, the medical malpractice law is codified at Section 766.118, Florida Statutes. In the upcoming months, the Court is expected to decide whether the caps should be applied retroactively.

About the Case

The plaintiff, Kimberly Ann Miles, was originally awarded $1.5 million by a jury for pain and suffering after a physician performed unnecessary surgery on her leg, causing permanent damage. Miles had been treated for melanoma in 2002. In 2003, an oncologist incorrectly determined that she still had cancer and performed an additional surgical procedure that led to a serious infection. After the second, unnecessary surgery, Miles suffered permanent swelling that makes walking difficult and requires her to be on a morphine drip for pain. Miles filed her medical malpractice case in 2006. The judge reduced Miles’ damages to $500,000, citing the 2003 law that caps non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

The Florida Supreme Court must now decide whether Miles should receive the original award, as her injuries occurred several months before the 2003 legislation took effect. If the Court decides that Miles is entitled to the full $1.5 million, it will send a strong message to Florida lawmakers. It will also create a precedent that the caps on non-economic damages do not apply retroactively. Specifically, a decision in Miles’ favor will mean that injuries that took place before the law was passed are not subject to the cap.

Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers

St. Petersburg’s medical malpractice law is complex. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a health care provider’s negligence, it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Emerson Straw, PL handle all types of medical negligence and wrongful death cases. Contact our office at (727) 821-1500 to speak to an attorney about your case.