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    Describe the role government agencies play in providing infrascture or influence on placing caps on malpractice suits.

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    Please refer to file response attached (source: (Source: http://www.mcandl.com/california.html#VII), as well as information on medical malpractice suits in general.

    1. Describe the role government agencies play in providing infrastructure or influence on placing caps on malpractice suits

    The government (i.e., state and federal) and the courts work hand in hand to legislate laws (i.e., caps on malpractice suits) often through other court cases that set precedence.

    Let's look at two example of the caps placed on malpractice suits and the role of the government, through civil codes and past court cases, plays in the making of the laws that determine the caps on malpractice suits.

    Take Alabama for example,
    Damage Caps
    Although the legislature passed a damage cap in 1987, the Alabama Supreme Court held it to be unconstitutional. Moore v. Mobile Infirmity Ass'n, 592 So. 2d 156 (Ala. 1991). The statute, which has never been repealed, provides that a medical malpractice plaintiff's recovery for non-economic losses, including punitive damages, may not exceed $400,000. Ala. Code § 6-5-544 (1993). The Court has also held to be unconstitutional a $250,000 cap on punitive damages, Ala. Code § 6-11-21 (1993), applicable to all cases except wrongful death and those alleging a pattern of intentional wrongful conduct, actual malice, or defamation. Henderson v. Alabama Power Co., 627 So. 2d 878 (Ala. 1993).
    Damages for wrongful death, including wrongful death caused by medical malpractice, are awarded in Alabama in a manner unique to that state. Although Alabama's wrongful death statutes, Ala. Code § 6-5-391 (Supp. 1997) (for minors) and § 6-5-410 (1993), do not so state, a series of judicial decisions, beginning more than a century ago, holds that all damages in wrongful death cases are considered to be punitive, rather than compensatory. Savannah & Memphis Railroad v. Schearer, 58 Ala. 672, 680 (1877); Tatum v. Schering Corp., 523 So. 2d 1042 (Ala. 1988); Killough v. Jahandarfard, 578 So. 2d 1041 (Ala. 1991) (minor decedent). These damages may be awarded in cases of simple negligence, with no requirement of willful or wanton behavior by defendants. Black Belt Wood Co. v. Sessions, 514 So. 2d 1249 (Ala. 1986). They are assessed jointly and severally against all liable defendants, regardless of their degrees of culpability, and with no right of contribution. Id. Despite the peculiarity of statutes that permit the award of punitive damages for simple negligence, these have been upheld as constitutional under state law, in Killough, and federal law. Louis Pizitz Dry Goods Co. v. Weldell, 274 U.S. 112 (1927).
    In 1987, the legislature attempted to limit the damages that could be awarded against a health care provider for wrongful death by establishing a $1,000,000 limit, to be adjusted annually for inflation. Ala. Code § 6-5-547 (1993). This has been held to be unconstitutional. Smith v. Schulte, 671 So. 2d 1334 (Ala. 1995), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1220 (1996).
    Statutory Cap on Attorneys' Fees
    Alabama law does not place a cap on attorneys' fees in medical malpractice ...

    Solution Summary

    The solution describes the role government agencies play in providing infrascture or influence on placing caps on malpractice suits. Supplemented with an article on medical malpractice suits in general.

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