Category Archives: Kansas

June 2019 Newsletter

Lifting liability limits in New Mexico could take medical system from bad to worse Already ranking two spots from the bottom on access to health care when compared to all U.S. states, New Mexico patients now face another obstacle if personal injury attorneys have their way. Challenges stemming from a rural landscape, an aging population, and low physician pay influencing recruitment already make it difficult for patients to access affordable health care. Making things worse is an attempt to raise reasonable limits on non-economic damages to $2 million for individual physicians and $25 million for medical entities, which includes many small practices. Michael Kaufman, MD, of Taos Medical Group, who has practiced internal medicine in Taos for more than 40 years, expressed what many fellow practitioners were feeling: “If this goes through, we’re out of here.” Dr. Kaufman cited an impossible operating environment for a four-physician, three-nurse practitioner practice due to higher insurance premiums required to remain covered under an increased limit. While the measure was defeated – for now – due to overwhelming opposition by the healthcare community demonstrating their concern for their patients’ access to healthcare, it remains likely to be introduced again in the future. Click here…

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Kansas Supreme Court rules cap on damages for pain, suffering is unconstitutional

SOURCE: The Wichita Eagle In a major decision that figures to change the landscape of personal injury litigation in Kansas, the state’s supreme court on Friday ruled that caps on certain damages that juries can award are unconstitutional. The court ruled that limits imposed by the Kansas Legislature on noneconomic damages — jury awards that account for pain, suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life following an injury — violate a person’s right to a jury trial under the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Right. The high court issued the ruling in a Sedgwick County case filed by a woman who was hurt in November 2010 when a semi-truck rear-ended the car she was riding in. Diana K. Hilburn sued Enerpipe Ltd., alleging the crash was the result of the truck driver’s negligence and the company was liable. At trial, a jury awarded Hilburn $335,000 in damages including $33,490.86 for medical expenses and $301,509.14 for noneconomic damages such as pain, suffering, emotional anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. But a district court judge reduced the award by more than $51,000 to bring it in line with the state’s then-$250,000 award cap, which legislators passed in 1988 to cut…

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MO GOP To Bring Back Tort Reform In 2013

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) Missouri lawmakers have their eyes on reinstating liability limits for medical malpractice cases after the state Supreme Court struck down an existing cap on damages last summer. Republicans claim a supermajority when the Legislature meets Wednesday to start the 2013 session, and GOP leaders say restoring the liability limits invalidated by the high court is needed to control health care costs and help keep doctors in Missouri. “The judiciary, like a bunch of termites, has gone to work undermining that necessary tort reform,” said Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. “So we’re going to have to go back and do the heavy lifting all over again.” A significant piece of the Republican effort to curb liability lawsuits was a cap of $350,000 for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases. Before that, Missouri had an inflation-adjusted cap of $579,000 for noneconomic damages against each defendant for each act of negligence. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled 4-3 the 2005 law was unconstitutional. The court’s majority pointed to the state constitution’s Bill of Rights, which states “the right of a trial by jury as heretofore enjoyed shall remain inviolate.” Because Missourians had a common-law right…

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Kansas Supreme Court upholds medical malpractice cap

The war on medical malpractice caps rages on. Although several state Supreme Courts have recently struck down malpractice laws aiming to limit awards for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, the Kansas Supreme Court has just ruled that the law is constitutional and can stand. The case at hand involved a 28-year-old patient that had surgery to remove an ovary. The surgeon mistakenly removed the wrong ovary, forcing the patient to then undergo a second surgery with a different surgeon to remove the diseased ovary. The original surgeon was found at fault during trial, and the patient was awarded a total of $759,679 in damages, including $575,000 for current and future noneconomic losses, plus $100,000 for future medical bills. The trial judge then reduced the award to $334,679, citing a state law that caps non-economic damages at $250,000. In its decision, the Kansas Supreme Court held that the limit at which noneconomic awards are capped is still adequate despite the fact that the sum of money is not worth as much as it was in 1988, when the law was first enacted. The Court held in its opinion that although the cap does restrict the common law right to…

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