According to the AJC.com website, the Georgia Supreme Court handed down a case striking down the $350,000 cap on non-economic damages enacted by a tort reform law passed in 2005. The ruling upheld the jury’s award to a woman who was injured by a doctor who performed a bad facelift operation on her. The victim’s face was covered in gaping wounds, and required extensive painful treatments to prevent the wounds from becoming infected. The wounds left the victim permanently disfigured.
The Supreme Court ruling was based on basic guarantees provided to the citizens of Georgia through their constitution. The Georgia constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial to every citizen. The cap on damages nullifies the jury’s findings of fact regarding damages and undermines the jury’s basic function. The court states “the very existence of the caps, in any amount, is violative of the right to trial by jury.”
This ruling follows a ruling in Illinois last month where the Illinois Supreme Court declared a medical malpractice cap in that state unconstitutional. That bill, passed in 2005 and signed into law by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, created a $500,000 cap in medical malpractice cases against doctors and a $1 million cap in cases against hospitals.