Missouri Chamber supports restoring medical malpractice damage caps

The Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee discussed a bill to reinstate medical malpractice caps in Missouri this week.

The committee discussed Senate Bill 589, which would re-establish legislation putting a cap on malpractice payouts. Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, the sponsor of the bill, thinks the cap should be restored in order to encourage more doctors to practice in Missouri.

The Missouri Chamber was a lead proponent of sweeping tort reforms passed in 2005 that included placing medical malpractice caps.

In 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned caps on malpractice payouts. The Missouri Chamber fought the overturning of the law.

“Missouri has had no cap on non-economic damages for the first time since the 1980s,” Sen. Brown testified. “A lot of doctors are opting not to do high risk procedures in Missouri. We have a lot of great medical experts in the state; we have a lot of great students in our medical schools that we are losing to other states because of this issue.”

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports this legislation.

“Non-economic damages awards, such as for pain and suffering, are highly subjective and inherently unpredictable – there is no market for pain and suffering,” the Missouri Chamber wrote in a brief.  “In recent years, a confluence of factors has led to a significant rise in the size of pain and suffering awards, creating the need for statutory upper limits to guard against excessive and unpredictable outlier awards.  Such awards may occur when juries are improperly influenced by sympathy for the plaintiff, bias against a deep-pocket defendant, or desire to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff.”

For more information about tort reform, please contact Jay Atkins, general counsel and direct of  governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry at jatkins@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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