Wisconsin Court Caps Medical Malpractice Awards

July 6, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled limits on medical malpractice wrongful death awards are constitutional.

>The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision to reduce Joseph and Yvette Maurin’s $3 million medical malpractice award to $300,000 for the 1996 death of their 5-year-old daughter, according to an Associated Press report.   For Wisconsin-based plan sponsors the ruling could help keep health-care costs down, by holding malpractice insurance premiums in check.  

>In that case, the jury fell back on Wisconsin statutes that allow up to $350,000 compensation for the malpractice wrongful death of an adult, $500,000 for the wrongful malpractice death a child and about $432,000 for noneconomic losses.

The Maurins had argued that such a cap violated their constitutional right to a jury trial and usurped judicial authority to raise and lower awards.   In the ruling, the state supreme court said raising or reducing awards are not core judicial powers since the courts and the state legislature share that power.  

Jerome Hierseman , the attorney representing the Maurin family, said he may ask the court to reconsider.   “It’s incredibly disappointing,” he told the Associated Press.