November 1, 2014

Missouri House endorses reinstatement of medical malpractice caps

The State House has voted to put back in place caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits.

Representative Eric Burlison (photo courtesy, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Eric Burlison (photo courtesy, Missouri House Communications)

The House approved a bill that would limit to 350,000 dollars awards for non-economic damages like pain and suffering, in medical malpractice suits. Such a cap was passed by the legislature in 2005 and struck down last year by the state Supreme Court.

The proposal is sponsored by Representative Eric Burlison (R-Springfield), who says, “Without these limits Missouri’s healthcare industry is subject to erratic and excessive jury awards that will raise the cost of care, decrease the access to care and create an unfair environment for patients and their families.”

Representative Kevin McManus (D-Kansas City) says he thinks the intent of the bill is noble, but says it’s been stricken down already.

“The separation of power is that we have three branches of government. One branch has said that it was unconstitutional. We’re going to send them a House bill and say, ‘Here it is. Try it again.’ Insanity is doing the same thing and over again and expecting a different result. I don’t think we’re going to get a different result by passing a House bill.”

Proponents argued passing Burlison’s legislation reaffirms the separation of powers between the three branches of government.

It received opposition from lawmakers from both parties, however. Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) says it represents a position that is not conservative.

“Taking power away from decentralized juries comprised of ordinary citizens making these judgements after hearing the actual facts in cases … is not conservative. Abandoning 1,000 years of common law starting in 11th century England is not conservative.”

The legislation has been sent to the Senate.