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Society submits amicus brief in damages cap case

The Wisconsin Medical Society requested permission Monday to file an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in Fiez v. Keevil, et al., a case involving a challenge to the statutory cap on damages recoverable in a lawsuit against state employees, including state-employed physicians. The brief provides important information and context to the court regarding how the statutory cap applicable to state employees fits into the Wisconsin medical liability system.

The Fiez case is currently before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to determine whether the statutory cap on the amount of damages recoverable by a plaintiff in a lawsuit against a state employee ($250,000) is unconstitutional. A jury found a cardiologist at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics negligent in his care of Robert Fiez, and awarded the plaintiffs (Mr. Fiez’s widow and his estate) approximately $1.8 million in damages. However, that amount was reduced by the trial court to approximately $500,000 due to the statutory cap applicable to claims against state employees. The plaintiffs appealed, claiming that the cap violates their constitutional rights to equal protection, the right to determination by a jury and the right to a remedy guaranteed by the Wisconsin Constitution.

The brief, which was submitted jointly with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, argues that the statutory cap on damages applicable to state employees, including state employed physicians, is an important component of the Wisconsin medical liability system. The Wisconsin legislature took that cap into account in drafting the carefully balanced system, and any change to that system, such as removing the cap, should be done by the legislature, not the courts, because of its ability to more objectively evaluate and balance the interests of multiple groups.

A copy of the brief can be found here. The Society will continue to monitor this case and update members regarding its outcome.

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