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.