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Supreme Court hears arguments on cap on damages

April 19, 2018 8:10 PM | Deleted user

WMS Medigram, April 19

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, a case involving a constitutional challenge to Wisconsin’s $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases (Cap). The case could have far-reaching effects on Wisconsin’s well-balanced, relatively stable medical liability environment.

On July 5, 2017 the Wisconsin Court of Appeals struck down the Cap, concluding that it violates the equal protection rights of plaintiffs in medical liability cases. The Wisconsin Supreme Court subsequently agreed to review the lower appellate court’s decision. On Jan. 18, 2018 the Society, along with the AMA Litigation Center, filed an amicus brief in support of the Cap, explaining its value to patients and the health care community alike. For more background on the Mayo case, see this article from the Oct. 9, 2014 Medigram.

Today’s arguments provided the Court’s seven members with the opportunity to ask questions, follow up on points raised in briefs, including the Society’s amicus brief, and give an indication of their thinking.

“It’s clear from the questions raised today that the Court understands the lengths the legislature went to create a well-balanced, comprehensive medical liability system that provides unique protections for Wisconsin patients and why the cap is essential to that system,” said Society General Counsel John Rather, JD. “We are encouraged with what we heard today and are hopeful the Court will restore the cap.”

The Court spent a considerable portion of the arguments exploring the relationship of the Cap to controlling health care liability and overall health care costs, attracting and retaining physicians and protecting the viability of the Fund.

A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by mid-summer. For more information, contact John Rather, JD. For an in-depth examination of the Mayo case and its implications for Wisconsin health care, listen to Episode 3 of WisMed OnCall, “The Mayo Case and Its Potential Impact,” available here.

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