Today, the Illinois Supreme Court agreed with an earlier trial court’s decision to abolish caps on medical malpractice judgments in Illinois, calling the legislation “facially invalid” due to a separation of powers issue with the Illinois Constitution. Apparently only the judicial branch of Illinois government has the ability to reduce verdicts.
Because of an inseverability clause contained in the legislation, the entire medical malpractice reform statute was declared invalid.
When presented with the number of other states that have enacted noneconomic damage caps and the number of states that have rejected the separation of powers argument under the same circumstances, the Illinois Supreme Court justified its decision by stating “That ‘everybody is doing it’ is hardly a litmus test for the constitutionality of the statute.”
Also read an article about the legislation in the Chicago Tribune.
Hear all those papers rustling? That’s all the doctors in Illinois flipping through medical journals and newspapers looking for jobs in other states. It will be interesting to see the effect that this decision has upon Illinois citizens’ access to medical care in the coming years.
Some good insights and additional links to the story from Walter Olson at Point of Law. Interesting to imagine how the Court would back out of its corner if hospitals and doctors required that patients agreed to a limit for damages as a requisite for medical care – contracting around the statute as potential medical malpractice plaintiffs are often requested to do with attorney fee limits in Florida.
Also … a picture of young Abigaile Lebron, the child whose birth negligence case sparked the Supreme Court’s decision.