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Damage Cap Cases Summarized By Medical Malpractice Lawyer

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Damage Cap and the related topic of medical malpractice.   For more information on medical malpractice see the page on Wikipedia.

Damage Cap-Statutes

See Va. Code § 8.01-581.15, which raises cap on liability in medical malpractice to $1.5 million as of August 1, 1999, for actions accruing after that date. Each year thereafter cap shall increase by $50,000 until July 1, 2008, when annual increase shall be $75,000 for that year and next year. Each annual increase shall apply to act or acts of malpractice occurring on or after effective date of increase.

Damage Cap-Cases

1999 Pulliam v. Coastal Emergency Servs., Inc., 257 Va. 1, 509 S.E.2d 307.

Medical malpractice damage cap does not violate any constitutional guarantees, therefore, decision in Etheridge v. Medical Center Hospitals is reaffirmed. Medical cap does nothing more than establish outer limits of remedy. Remedy is a matter of law not fact. Trial court applies remedies limitation only after jury has fulfilled its fact finding function. Therefore, cap does not infringe upon right to jury trial. Legislature may completely abolish a cause of action without violating right to trial by jury. Likewise, it may limit damages recoverable for cause of action. Jury trial guarantees secure no rights other than those that existed at common law. Common law never recognized right to full recovery in tort. It follows therefore that malpractice cap does not impinge upon right to trial by jury. Legislation in this case did not violate prohibition against special legislation since classification was not arbitrary. It applied to all persons belonging to the class without distinction. Necessity for and reasonableness of classification is primarily question for legislature.

1997 Schwartz v. Brownlee, 253 Va. 159, 482 S.E.2d 827.

Jury returned verdict for $1.85 million against doctor and his non-healthcare provider corporation. Doctor is provided benefit of damage cap but corporation is not.

1995 Fairfax Hosp. Sys. v. Nevitt, 249 Va. 591, 457 S.E.2d 10.

Plaintiff settled with co-defendant who was health care provider and then recovered judgment against Fairfax Hospital for amount in excess of cap. Judgment was first reduced to damage cap and then was further reduced by amount of settlement with other health care provider.

1994 Taylor v. Mobil Corp., 248 Va. 101, 444 S.E.2d 705.

Doctor who was employee of Mobil and who worked in clinic examined plaintiff and misdiagnosed heart disease. Doctor at time had inadvertently allowed his medical license to lapse. As such medical malpractice cap does not apply.

1990 Bulala v. Boyd, 239 Va. 218, 389 S.E.2d 670.

Cap on damages applies per patient regardless of number of legal theories upon which claims are based. In this obstetric case, one cap applied to mother’s claim. The baby, if born alive, also has a separate cap. The father’s claim for emotional distress and for medical expenses is governed by cap on baby’s claim. Since compensatory award equal or greater than cap, no punitive damages could be recovered.

1989 Ethridge v. Medical Center Hosps., 237 Va. 87, 376 S.E.2d 525.

Cap on damages in malpractice case is upheld. Common law never recognized full recovery in tort.

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Damage Cap Cases Summarized By Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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