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Wisconsin Supreme Court will have final say on cap on damages

The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed this week to review a decision by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals striking down the cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases. The Society had urged the Court to review, and ultimately reverse, the lower court.

The Court of Appeals’ July 5, 2017 decision struck down the $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages recoverable in medical liability cases as a violation of equal protection. Wisconsin is among the majority of states that have some form of cap on damages.

The Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (IPFCF) petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals’ decision. The Society, jointly with the American Medical Association (AMA), filed an amicus brief in support of the IPFCF’s petition for review. The brief explained why the cap is important to the practice of medicine in Wisconsin and why the state’s highest court should be the final word in this case.

On Monday, the Supreme Court granted the IPFCF’s petition, meaning it will have the final word on the validity of the cap.

“We’re pleased the state’s highest court will be taking a fresh look at this very important issue,” said Society General Counsel John Rather. “The cap is a critical part of Wisconsin’s well-balanced, relatively stable medical liability system.”

He cautioned, however, that there remains no cap on noneconomic damages in Wisconsin medical liability cases pending a final decision by the Supreme Court in this case.

“The high court’s order accepting review is an important step, but does not in itself reverse the lower court’s decision,” said Rather.

The case will now be briefed in the Supreme Court before the Court hears oral arguments in late winter or early spring of next year. The Society will be filing an amicus brief in support of the cap, as will other stakeholders.

For more information, contact Society General Counsel John Rather, JD.

Back to November 16, 2017 Medigram