Tuesday, March 23, 2010

$250,000 for Loss of Consortium?

Why should the husband of  a woman who was disfigured by her facelift get $250,000 for pain and suffering?  Actually, his is for “loss of consortium.”

President Barak Obama is scheduled to sign the new healthcare bill into law today.  No tort reform was included.

According to the Georgia Supreme Court ruling

In January 2006, Harvey P. Cole, M.D., of Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, d/b/a Oculus, performed CO2 laser resurfacing and a full facelift on appellee Betty Nestlehutt.  In the weeks after the surgery, complications arose, resulting in Nestlehutt’s permanent disfigurement. Nestlehutt, along with her husband, sued Oculus for medical malpractice. The case proceeded to trial, ending in a mistrial. On retrial, the jury returned a verdict of $1,265,000, comprised of $115,000 for past and future medical expenses; $900,000 in noneconomic damages for Ms. Nestlehutt’s pain and suffering; and $250,000 for Mr.
Nestlehutt’s loss of consortium.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled the 2005 Tort Reform Act was unconstitutional and that the state legislature may not limit the amount of money that juries award to victims of medical malpractice.   So the above amounts stand rather than being reduced to $115,000 for medical expenses and $350,000 for noneconomic damages.

The 2005 Tort Reform Act was part of a legislative package that capped jury awards at $350,000 for the “noneconomic damages” of malpractice victims.  The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that the cap improperly removes a jury’s fundamental role to determine the damages in a civil case.

Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein wrote in the decision,“The very existence of the caps, in any amount, is violative of the right to trial by jury.”

The current healthcare bill to be signed into law today by President Obama fails to address tort reform.

6 comments:

The Happy Hospitalist said...

Does that mean men who marry women who become ugly in their eyes due to weight gain can sue food companies for loss of (what ever that word was)?

rlbates said...

Don't know, Happy.

DBenzil said...

We certainly need tort reform now and this is just one example of why...Happy is right, consortium lost because of change in face? Turn out the lights is that is all their love was

DHS said...

What I don't understand is where the malpractice is. What did the doctor do that was wrong?

Anonymous said...

Because medical malpractice is a state law action and has no business being regulated by federal statute. Principles of federalism and all. Physicians seem to be pretty anti-federal government interference, until they want something from the feds that is.

Why should the federal government dictate the value of a case as opposed to a jury who has heard all the facts?

Your state, Arkansas, has already had "reform". What more do you want?

Anonymous said...

"What did the doctor do that was wrong?"

How can you - you read a paragraph summarizing a likely 2 week trial with mountains of evidence. You'd have to order the transcript to know anything about the facts of the case, and if it means we need "reform". To draw conclusions from that blurb would be irresponsible, at best. Unless you're Trent Lott that is, and can make diagnoses on very limited info.