A judge in Fulton County, Georgia, has struck down the cap on monetary awards in a medical malpractice case.
Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington wrote that the cap was unconstitutional because it allowed protection to the medical profession that was not allowed to other defendants such as manufacturers of defective products.
"It is absurd to say that if you get injured by a product that the jury can decide your noneconomic damages, but if you get injured by medical malpractice, it can’t," said Trent Speckhals, one of the lawyers for Cheon Park, the plaintiff in the case.
Judge Arrington’s decision only affects this case but, if appealed, will open the door for the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the caps for malpractice cases. If not overturned it would effectively mean that only the wealthy could get large settlements because they have large incomes that could be lost because of malpractice.
"The statute effectively puts substantial limitations on the rights of the poor and middle class to recovery while leaving the right to virtually unlimited recoveries unimpeded for the wealthy," Arrington said. "The disabled manager of a hedge fund, a corporate CEO, an entertainer or such other person whose income is in the tens of millions of dollars has a claim under Georgia law that would dwarf the amount awarded in any case for pain and suffering."