$25M Jury Award for Medical Malpractice Shrunk to Just $750K by Wisconsin Supreme Court
In 2014, Ascaris Mayo, a 50-year old Milwaukee resident, was awarded $25 million in a jury award following a newsworthy medical malpractice lawsuit. However, recent legal changes implemented by the Wisconsin Supreme Court means she will only get $750,000, or 3% of the original amount. Will this legal change end up being spread to other states?
Failing to Diagnose a Serious Health Condition
The medical providers at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital did not diagnose Ascaris’ Strep A infection and did not provide her with any sort of antibiotic, despite her symptoms. The infection triggered septic shock and sepsis, which required the amputation of all four of her limbs. In acknowledgement of the harrowing experience and the significant hardship she would have to endure for the rest of her life, as well as the hardship suffered by her husband and close family, the jury decided upon a $25 million jury award. The judge agreed the standing $750,000 noneconomic damage cap was unconstitutional.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Caps Medical Malpractice Awards
However, the payment of Ascaris’ award was halted due to legal challenges and appeals propped up by the defense and amicus briefs. Insurance companies and medical groups alike were set on challenging the decision, stating the large award was unreasonable given that Wisconsin’s Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund already guaranteed economic damages. The opponents of the verdict argued massive noneconomic damages would drain the Fund and spike the cost of medical care for everyone else.
Recently, in late June 2018, the defense’s moves culminated as the case details were brought to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In a 5-2 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices held the constitutionality of the $750,000 noneconomic damage cap for medical malpractice cases. Ascaris’ noneconomic award will be shrunk by an astounding 97%.
(For more information about the original case and the controversial Supreme Court decision, you can click here to view a full article from the Journal Sentinel.)
Striking Implications for Medical Malpractice Cases Nationwide
It is important to note that the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision might not be something that makes waves solely in Wisconsin. It is entirely feasible that insurance and medical groups in other states are eyeing the decision and planning on pushing for similar enforcement elsewhere. After all, what is legally permissible in one state might be found as such in others with the right convincing.
At Saint & Watzke, PLLP, our Tulsa personal injury attorneys are proud and steadfast representatives for the wrongfully injured of Oklahoma. Our legal team is keeping a close eye on the situation after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling shook the foundation of medical malpractice claims. If insurance companies and healthcare businesses push for a similarly low damage cap in Oklahoma, then you will know about it here in our blog.
If you require the assistance or representation of our personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers for a claim of your own, do not hesitate to reach out to us. You can contact us at any hour of any day to begin your case.