The Georgia Supreme Court this week shot down a key provision of the state's 2005 tort reform laws capping noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits at $350,000. That comes just weeks after the Illinois Supreme Court declared that caps on medical malpractice damages violate separation of powers, by allowing lawmakers to interfere with judicial verdicts.
The Georgia Supreme Court decision involved an appeal by a hospital against a verdict awarding $1.15 million in non-economic damages to a patient. The patient had been severely scarred by a botched cosmetic surgery procedure performed at Atlanta Oculopasty Surgery. A jury awarded her $1.15 million in non-economic damages including pain and suffering, against a statutory cap of $350,000. The cap was part of sweeping tort reform laws passed in Georgia in 2005. The law’s proponents claimed these caps would reduce medical practice insurance premiums, and encourage more doctors to stay in the state.