Thursday, October 2, 2014


Original Story:

Pressure could be building against Wisconsin’s caps on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Two Milwaukee County cases are challenging the state’s $750,000 cap on non-economic damages, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported this month.

A Dane County case challenging a separate $250,000 cap on total damages against UW-Madison doctors is pending in the state Court of Appeals. A Milwaukee Medical Malpractice Lawyer has experience managing injury cases involving medical malpractice.

One of the Milwaukee cases involves Ascaris Mayo, a 53-year-old mother of four who had to have all of her limbs amputated in 2011 after a strep infection went undetected at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee, the Journal-Sentinel reported.

In July, a jury awarded Mayo and her husband $25.3 million. That included $15 million for pain and suffering and $1.5 million for his loss of companionship, non-economic damages limited by state law to $750,000.

Tyree Roberts, 23, was awarded $2.2 million in June after a jury said nurses failed to recognize symptoms of compartment syndrome, which caused him to undergo several surgeries and lose sensation in his left leg. A Milwaukee Personal Injury Lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

That award includes $1.5 million for pain and suffering, limited to $750,000 under the state cap adopted in 2006 after the state Supreme Court threw out the previous cap of $350,000, which was adjusted for inflation.

In hearings this month about the validity of the cap in the Milwaukee County cases, judges called into question the state’s $1.15 billion Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, which has grown in recent years as the number of malpractice cases has declined.

The fund, supported by premiums from doctors, covers malpractice awards over $1 million.

The $1.15 billion is an “obscene amount,” the Journal-Sentinel quoted Circuit Court Judge David Hansher as saying.

Wisconsin Medical Society lobbyist Mark Grapentine defended the size of the fund, saying it has to be robust to handle potential outlays.

The Milwaukee County cases appear to be headed to the state Supreme Court, the Journal-Sentinel reported.

In the Dane County case, Terri Fiez of Verona won a $1.8 million jury award last year for her husband’s death after he was treated at UW Hospital. The jury found Dr. Jonathan Keevil, who works for UW-Madison, negligent.

The state limits total damages against UW doctors and other state employees to $250,000.

Circuit Court Judge John Markson upheld the cap, citing a state Supreme Court’s ruling maintaining a similar $50,000 cap against municipalities.

But, Markson wrote, “I believe the plaintiffs provide cogent arguments that deserve close examination by our Supreme Court, which is the only court that can modify or overrule the decisions that I believe are controlling.”

Markson said the Legislature set the state employee cap in 1979 at $250,000, equal to $72,000 today. An equivalent cap today would be $800,000, he said.
Guy DuBeau, an attorney for the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Wisconsin Medical Society, wrote in a brief in the appeal that the Legislature “crafted these policies consistent with the well accepted principle that it, and not the courts, is better suited to weigh the policies involved.”

William Gleisner, an attorney with the Wisconsin Association for Justice, wrote that the $250,000 cap is “an insult to the citizens of Wisconsin because it encourages public employees to believe that there is no downside to their failure to adhere to those basic standards, regulations or guidelines.”

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