2017's Largest Verdicts and Medical Malpractice Rulings | Law Firm Newswire

2017’s Largest Verdicts and Medical Malpractice Rulings

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 21, 2018 -
All over the country, several major medical malpractice rulings took place last year. Included in this is the Florida Supreme Court decision to increase patient privacy as well as another ruling that bars noneconomic damage caps for medical malpractice claims. The U.S. Supreme Court also settled a dispute surrounding nursing homes and arbitration agreements.

In 2017, at least ten medical malpractice cases resulted in settlements over $20 million.

The top verdict of 2017 was an award of $61.6 million in Rhode Island to a patient who had to have his right leg amputated after he was taken off blood thinners. The patient, Peter Sfameni, sued two of his doctors as well as the hospital. He was originally given a judgment of $40 million, but was awarded $21.6 in addition for Rhode Island’s statute on prejudgment interest. This was the biggest medical malpractice judgment in Rhode Island’s history.

In another case, a family with an infant who suffered from brain damage was awarded $46.5 million by a jury in Arkansas this past March. The child had a worsening skin condition that the hospital’s doctors failed to properly treat.

In Pennsylvania, a federal judge awarded parents of a newborn $41.6 million dollars in a medical malpractice lawsuit. A doctor working at a federally funded health clinic was negligent in his use of forceps to deliver the couple’s baby. The act resulted in permanent brain damage in the child.

In Florida, the state Supreme Court determined in November that a 2013 state law was unconstitutionally written as it denied patients’ privacy rights that the Florida Constitution warrants. The law gave doctors preparing for a medical malpractice lawsuit the right to contact and interview the patient’s prior physicians.

A lower court in Florida had decided that the law did not violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. However, the Florida Supreme Court overturned the ruling of the lower court. The justices stated that the previous lack of privacy that patients were experiencing could have deterred some from filing claims.

The high court said, “The ex parte secret interview provisions of [the 2013 law] fail to protect Florida citizens from even accidental disclosures of confidential medical information that falls outside the scope of the claim because there would be no one present on the claimant’s behalf.”

In June, the Florida Supreme Court overturned a 2003 state law surrounding medical malpractice noneconomic damage caps. North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan, in a 4-3 ruling, determined that the law maximizing noneconomic damages to $500,000 for most or $1 million for the more atrocious cases was a violation of the Florida Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“The court did the right thing in finding these caps on damages unconstitutional,” said Robert Joyce, a medical malpractice attorney with the Tampa law firm of Jocye & Reyes.

Though the Kentucky Supreme court did rule that an individual who had signed an arbitration agreement with an attorney wrongly waives his right as a patient to a jury trial, the U.S. Supreme Court determined in a 7-1 ruling that the Federal Arbitration Act should preempt the state’s arbitration rule. The Federal Arbitration Act states that arbitration agreements should be treated the same as any other contract.

Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
Call: 813.251.2007

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