Suit challenges cap on pain and suffering Lower court's decision cuts award for plaintiff in half, negates wife's share

Side note: Medical malpractice reform law in the state of West Virginia is being tested in a closely watched case. A man who was treated in the City Hospital in the Eastern Panhandle claims that the drugs he was prescribed interacted with the medication that he was already taking to cause a condition called rhabdomyolysis, which causes a severe loss of muscle mass. Lawyers for the man claim that he is a “shadow of his former self” and are challenging the $500,000 dollar cap placed pain and suffering in the state of West Virginia. As we’ve seen in other states such as Illinois and Georgia, the laws governing medical malpractice insurance reform can be severely altered by the courts. West Virginia can be a tricky place for doctors to obtain medical malpractice insurance because most insurance brokers don’t have access to every insurer.

by Ry Rivard
Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Supreme Court will hear a case challenging a key portion of the state’s painstakingly crafted medical malpractice reforms.

An Eastern Panhandle couple is challenging the Legislature’s $500,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering in malpractice suits.

The Legislature set the cap in 2003 to deal with what insurance companies said were the ballooning size of medical malpractice judgments and the fear of doctor flight.

The appeal, which the Supreme Court is supposed to hear arguments for early next year, is the most serious challenge of the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act. The case is set to draw the attention of a host of interest groups, including the American Medical Association, the Chamber of Commerce, AARP and trial lawyers.

In fall 2004, James MacDonald, 56, was admitted to City Hospital in the Eastern Panhandle for pneumonia. MacDonald was taking other medications because of a kidney transplant and other chronic conditions. The combination of those medications and new ones caused a condition called rhabdomyolysis that caused MacDonald’s muscles to waste away.

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