Florida’s cap on noneconomic damages was enacted eight years ago and is being challenged in a case involving a 20-year-old woman who died following the birth of her child. She had been diagnosed with hypertension and preeclampsia. Her family sued and was awarded $3 million, including $2 million in pain and suffering damages. But the cap on noneconomic damages led the court to reduce that pain and suffering award by half. The family appealed the claim, and the Florida Supreme Court will determine whether the cap violates the state constitution.
Similarly, North Carolina General’s Senate Bill 33 – Medical Liability Reforms, enacted in July, contains a $500,000 cap on noneconomic damages, which takes effect October 1, 2011. The cap does not apply if a plaintiff suffers disfigurement, loss of use of part of the body, permanent injury or death; and the defendant’s conduct was in reckless disregard of the rights of others, grossly negligent, fraudulent, intentional or with malice. It has no effect on recovery for economic harm such as medical expenses and lost wages. The cap is indexed to inflation.
2011’s Legislative Successes: Medical Liability Reforms, NCMS Website