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Court Awards Higher Damages in Medical Malpractice Case

More than a decade after the Florida legislature approved limiting damages in medical malpractice cases, the Florida Supreme Court agreed with a woman who argued that the limits should not be applied to her case. The judges ruled 5-2 recently in favor of Kimberly Ann Miles who was injured in 2003 and filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in 2006 that the medical malpractice caps should not apply to her claims.

Facts of the Case

Ms. Miles had an outpatient procedure in December 2002 to remove a cancerous tumor from her leg after she was diagnosed with melanoma. After she was told that the procedure was a success, she got a second opinion from surgical oncologist Dr. Daniel Weingrad, who told her that a second surgery was necessary to make sure that the melanoma was eliminated.

Dr. Weingrad performed the second surgery in January 2003, but postoperative testing showed that no melanoma existed after the initial surgery in 2002. Unfortunately, Ms. Miles suffered from complications following the second surgery, including a serious infection, hospitalization, permanent swelling, and enough pain to limit her mobility.

Ms. Miles filed a lawsuit against Dr. Weingrad for medical malpractice in 2006, and a jury trial awarded her $1.5 million in damages for her injuries. Dr. Weingrad appealed, arguing that the medical malpractice damage limits should apply and limit her damages to $500,000. The case was taken up to the state Supreme Court.

Ruling of the Court

In a recent decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ms. Miles, agreeing that she underwent an unnecessary surgical procedure in 2003. “The facts in the present case show that Miles underwent the unnecessary surgical procedure in January 2003, which has been undisputedly adjudged as malpractice by Dr. Weingrad.” The second surgery took place months before the legislature enacted the limits on medical malpractice damages.

The Supreme Court in Florida ruled that the limits imposed by the state law could not be applied retroactively to injuries that were suffered before the law went into effect. Florida statute 766.118 states that “With respect to a cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death arising from medical negligence of practitioners, regardless of the number of such practitioner defendants, noneconomic damages shall not exceed $500,000 per claimant. No practitioner shall be liable for more than $500,000 in noneconomic damages, regardless of the number of claimants.” Therefore, Dr. Weingrad was liable for the full damages award of $1.5 million given to Ms. Miles in 2006 during the jury trial.

Call a Medical Malpractice Attorney Now

With this and other groundbreaking cases happening in the medical malpractice arena in Florida, if you have been the victim of medical malpractice, the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associates are prepared to help you. We serve clients in West Palm Beach and are ready to assist you with your case today.

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