Justices were sharply divided, with the majority finding that the caps on “non-economic” damages violated equal-protection rights and disputing that a malpractice insurance “crisis” exists.
The Florida court’s decision stemmed from a controversial 2013 law the Republican-controlled Legislature passed after a lobbying battle between groups such as doctors and plaintiffs’ attorneys.
The court faces high-profile cases that deal with issues such as medical malpractice, red-light cameras, utility rates and the death penalty. In some of the cases, justices have already heard arguments and could rule any week. In others, the cases still are percolating and have not gone to arguments.
Florida lawmakers are making it more difficult for lawyers to prove medical malpractice in broad gains against lawsuits for health care providers, but a proposal to make ER doctors immune to lawsuits was dropped.
Gov. Rick Scott is proposing further deep cuts in Medicaid payments to hospitals, while lawmakers have filed bills that would help shield emergency-room doctors and workers from costly malpractice lawsuits.
Autopsies are conducted on just 5 percent of patients who die in hospitals, letting common diagnostic errors go undiscovered, allowing physicians to practice on other patients with a false sense of security, and short-shrifting understanding of the effectiveness of medical treatments and the progression of diseases.