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Pre-filed legislation would restore cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits

Republican legislators in Missouri will try again next year to restore caps on damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.

In 2005 lawmakers passed legislation signed by former Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, that capped non-economic damages at $350,000, but that cap was ruled unconstitutional in 2012 by the Missouri Supreme Court. State Rep. EricBurlison,R-Springfield, has pre-filed a bill to restore the $350,000 cap.  In a written statement, Burlison says his bill would satisfy the constitutional question by replacing Missouri's common-law right to sue over health-care services with a statutory right to sue.

"As we look for ways to contain health-care costs for Missourians and retain medical professionals, reasonable medical malpractice limits are a vital component," Burlison said.  "Many other states, including Missouri before the Supreme Court's decision, have used limits effectively to keep the cost of health care affordable for everyone. We need limits in place again to bring the kind of certainty to the system that will keep insurance rates in check."


Critics are on record as saying $350,000 is not enough for victims of medical mistakes.  A similar bill was passed by the Missouri House during the 2013 regular session, but it died in the Senate.

The 2014 regular session begins Jan. 8.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Copyright 2013 KWMU-FM. To see more, visit http://www.stlpublicradio.org.

Missouri Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a proud alumnus of the University of Mississippi (a.k.a., Ole Miss), and has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off the old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Mason, and their cat, Honey.
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