$10.3M Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Award Will Stand, Says the Florida Supreme Court

Even though state law puts a medical malpractice non-economic damages, the Florida Supreme Court has determined that the $10.3M Palm Beach medical malpractice verdict in Harvey Raphael’s Florida wrongful death case can stand. However, the court didn’t rule directly on the Raphael verdict. Instead, it referred to a decision it made earlier this year striking down a decision by the state’s legislature to make the medical malpractice caps law retroactive.

Raphael sustained irrevocable hurt damage in 2003 when ER Dr. James Schecter at Palms West Hospital failed to give him Retavase, which was the anti-clotting drug that he needed. This occurred three months before Florida’s medical malpractice caps went into effect.

While attorneys for the Schecter claimed that the Palm Beach County medical malpractice lawsuit was filed two years after the caps became official, the Raphael family’s Florida wrongful death lawyer contended that what mattered wasn’t the date of when complaint was filed but when Raphael actually got hurt, which was before the caps went into effect. The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the verdict in 2009. However, because Schecter’s insurance policy limit is $1 million, the plaintiffs’ Palm Beach medical malpractice attorney will have to pursue a bad faith claim against the doctor’s insurance company to push for the full verdict amount.

Under Florida law, the caps for non-economic damages involving medical negligence is $500,000 per claimant in civil suits against health care practitioners, such as a surgeon or a doctor. When the defendant is a non-practitioner, such as a hospital, then the cap is $750,000. If death or a permanent vegetative state was the outcome as a result of medical negligence, then the non-economic damages are $1M and $1.5M respectively. For injuries from emergency care involving a practitioner defendant, there is a $100,000 non-economic damages cap for all claimants that cannot go above $300,000. With nonpractitioner defendants, it is a $750,000 cap per claimant that cannot exceed $ 1.5 million.

Supreme Court lets stand $10.3 million award in Palm Beach County medical malpractice case, Palm Beach Post, November 9, 2011

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$4.5M Palm Beach Birthing Malpractice Case Awarded to Family of Bryan Santana, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, September 13, 2011
Depositions in Boynton Beach Wrongful Death Lawsuit Involving 81-Year-Old Woman Who Bled Out After Botched 911 Calls Are Underway, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, August 19, 2011