Cyrus Dugger

Louisiana’s Medical Malpractice Cap Ruled Unconstitutional

In the battle against the tort “reform” movement’s state by state legislative campaign to limit damages for injured Americans, today was a slight victory for those who support justice.

You should give the entire article a read, but below are some of the best observations made by the author(full article here).

Malpractice cap outdated: Court rules 31-year-old limit not adequate remedy today
Advocate business writer
Published: Sep 28, 2006

Louisiana’s $500,000 cap on medical malpractice damages, passed 31 years ago, is unconstitutional because it no longer provides “an adequate remedy” to patients, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles ruled Wednesday in a 3-2 decision.

The $500,000 cap from 1975 is worth around $146,435 to $160,000 in today’s dollars, according to evidence presented in the original case and an affidavit filed in 2003, the ruling says. The cap would have to be raised to $1.6 million or $1.7 million, based on figures presented during the original trial.

“In either case, we find the current $500,000 cap fails to provide an adequate remedy to today’s severely injured plaintiffs, and thus, is unconstitutional. …,” the ruling says.
Oliver J. Schrumpf, the attorney representing the Arrington family in its lawsuit against Galen-Med Inc., said there is no evidence that bigger awards mean the state will lose doctors and that malpractice rates will skyrocket.. Malpractice rates are going to go up regardless of who wins the lawsuit, which will now be argued before the state Supreme Court, Schrumpf said.
Joanne Doroshow, co-founder of consumer watchdog Americans for Insurance Reform, said “a ton of evidence” shows that there is no correlation between malpractice caps and malpractice insurance rates. “The rate activity in the states with caps is the same as in states without caps,” Doroshow said. Malpractice insurance rates have more to do with the economy than anything else, according to the Consumer Federation of America. Insurers’ gains or losses on the investments they make with premium dollars from customers are one of the biggest factors in insurance rates.
In 2005, a study published in Health Affairs magazine found that medical malpractice accounted for less than 1 percent of health-care spending. The study also found that defensive medicine, where doctors run tests or do procedures to lower their chances of being sued, makes up no more than 9 percent of total spending. Now the case will head to the state Supreme Court, which would have happened regardless of the appeals court’s ruling, he said.... Schrumpf said the state’s malpractice cap did not place a limit on insurance premiums or profits, nor did it limit the fees a doctor can charge. The only cap is on a small group of people who suffered damages of more than $500,000... Malpractice caps could actually lead to an influx of negligent doctors by protecting them, Schrumpf said. Five percent to 7 percent of doctors are responsible for 60 percent to 70 percent of the malpractice committed. “It seems to me that stopping malpractice should be a greater goal than limiting the amount of money to a victim of malpractice,” he said. Story originally published in The Advocate

A lot to think about. Take a look at your state's limitations on your ability to get compensation if you're injured, and give some thought to whether you're comfortable with them.

After having looked at them more than I ever would have liked, I'm pretty sure that you won't be happy with many of tthem.

If you or your organization is interested in learning more about or working on these types of civil justice issues, please contact

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If you or your organization is interested in learning more about or working on these types of civil justice issues, please contact me at

Posted by: Cyrus Dugger | September 29, 2006 3:42 PM