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Society urges Wisconsin Supreme Court to restore cap on damages

The Wisconsin Medical Society filed a brief last Thursday supporting a request for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision striking down Wisconsin’s $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases. The case, Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, could have a major impact on the Wisconsin health care environment.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals struck down the cap on noneconomic damages on July 5, concluding that it violates the equal protection rights of plaintiffs in medical negligence cases. (See related article in the July 6 Medigram.)

The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (IPFCF) formally asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision and ultimately to restore the cap on July 27. The Supreme Court has discretion whether to grant review, and it rejects more requests than it grants. To increase the IPFCF’s chances of success in this important case, the Society and the American Medical Association (AMA) filed an amicus brief explaining to the Court why it should be the final word in this case.

“The lower courts’ decisions upend the comprehensive statutory medical liability system established in Chapter 655, which serves as a foundation for Wisconsin’s ability to ensure access to high-quality, patient-centered care for its citizens,” the brief states.

The Society previously had filed an amicus brief jointly with the AMA and Wisconsin Hospital Association in the Court of Appeals, explaining the value of the cap to Wisconsin’s well-balanced medical liability system. Combined with mandatory primary insurance and mandatory participation in the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (IPFCF), the cap is beneficial to patients, physicians and access to care.

Currently, there is no cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases in Wisconsin unless or until the Court of Appeals’ decision is overturned.

A decision on whether the Wisconsin Supreme Court will accept the case for review is expected this fall. For more information, contact Society General Counsel John Rather, JD.

Back to August 17, 2017 Medigram