Florida physicians could now potentially face higher damage awards against them in medical malpractice cases following a recent Florida Supreme Court decision. On June 8, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court determined that statutory caps on noneconomic damage awards in personal injury medical malpractice actions are unconstitutional. Relying on a Fourth District decision, the Court found that the caps violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution.
The Florida Supreme Court found the caps violated the Equal Protection Clause because the statutory caps created distinct classes of medical malpractice victims and limited the potential recovery of those patients most gravely injured by medical negligence. The Court also evaluated the State’s objective behind creating the statutory caps, concluding that the arbitrary caps on personal injury noneconomic damages no longer bore a rational connection to the State’s interest in curtailing the medical malpractice crisis in Florida because the crisis no longer existed.