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Eleventh Circuit Certifies Questions to Florida Supreme Court On Non-Economic Damages Cap

By Bonnie Navin, June 2nd, 2011

The Eleventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals recently addressed the constitutionality of Florida’s statutory cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.  Fla. Stat. § 766.118.

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s application of Florida’s statutory cap and concluded that there was no violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution under a rational basis standard.

The Eleventh Circuit further held that the statutory cap did not violate the Takings Clause of either the Florida or the US Constitutions, because the Court found that the plaintiffs were not deprived of vested property rights, and, therefore, no Takings Clause concerns arose.

Nevertheless, the Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to certify questions to the Florida Supreme Court regarding the plaintiffs’ remaining challenges to the cap under Florida constitutional law.

The Eleventh Circuit certified the following questions to the Florida Supreme Court:

  1. Does the statutory cap on noneconomic damages, Fla. Stat. § 766.118, violate the right to equal protection under Article I, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution?
  2.  Does the statutory cap on noneconomic damages, Fla. Stat. § 766.118, violate the right of access to the courts under Article I, Section 21 of the Florida Constitution?
  3. Does the statutory cap on noneconomic damages, Fla. Stat. § 766.118, violate the right to trial by jury under Article I, Section 22 of the Florida Constitution?
  4. Does the statutory cap on noneconomic damages, Fla. Stat. § 766.118, violate the separation of powers guaranteed by Article II, Section 3 and Article V, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution?

Estate of Michelle Evette McCall v. USA, __ ­F.3d __ (09-16375) (11th Cir. 2011).



Entry Filed under: Medical Malpractice

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