Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned a medical malpractice cap on damages finding that limiting compensation for injured victims of malpractice violated the Illinois constitution. Unfortunately, in Maryland Virginia there are still caps on damages which limit the rights of innocent victims to obtain full justice when they are injured by negligence. In Maryland, there is no cap on economic losses (i.e. medical expenses and lost wages), but a cap on non-economic losses (i.e. pain and suffering). In fact the Maryland Court of Appeals in Norman A. Lockshin, M.D., P.A. v. Barbara S. Semsker recently upheld the Maryland cap on non-economic damages and found that it applied to all medical malpractice cases. In that case, a Montgomery County jury awarded $5.8 million to the family of a man who died when a malignant melanoma went undiagnosed causing his death. The jury awarded $3 million in non-economic damages. This verdict included $1 million in compensation to Plaintiff's widow, $1 million in compensation to Plaintiff's estate and $500,000 in compensation to each of Plaintiff's two children. Unfortunately, these awards will be arbitrarily reduced to a total of $812,500 due Maryland's cap on non-economic damages.
Similarly, The Washington Post featured an article on February 27, 2010 in which a verdict of approximately $3 million will be reduced to approximately $ 1.25 million. This case also involved a man who died as a result of a doctor's missed diagnosis. In that case the Plaintiff had torn his esophagus when he swallowed a piece of steak. The radiologist mistakenly diagnosed him as having a hiatal hernia. Hopefully, the highest courts in Virginia and Maryland will take the lead from the Illinois Supreme Court and hold that caps on damages are unconstitutional , paving the way for negligent parties to be held fully accountable for their wrongdoing.