Supreme Court Decision Could Impact Missouri Medical Malpractice Caps

In Missouri, medical facilities and the professionals that staff them can be held liable for any harm a patient endures due to a mistake or negligence in treatment. What happens if a patient dies while under a doctor’s care, though? Is such a case considered a Missouri medical malpractice lawsuit or a wrongful death? The Missouri Supreme Court hopes to answer these questions with an upcoming ruling.
The case involves a woman who was undergoing heart surgery at a St. Louis hospital in 2011. During the procedure, a main artery in the woman’s body was severed, impeding blood flow and eventually leading to the patient’s death.
According to an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the family of the victim later successfully filed a suit against the hospital and doctor who were found responsible for the victim’s passing and were awarded $10.8 million in damages.
Of that award, $9 million was considered non-economic damages. A higher court later ruled the award fell under the state’s caps on such damages and reduced the amount to a mere $350,000.
Attorneys for the family claimed such limits were ruled unconstitutional. However, lawyers for the defendants argued that ruling only applied to personal injury cases and since the patient had died, the case in question should be considered a wrongful death and therefore subject to the caps.
The Supreme Court has not given an indication as to when they are expected to rule in the matter, but the St. Louis medical malpractice lawyers at Cofman Townsley Injury Lawyers will be anxiously awaiting the decision.