Tag Archives: Mississippi

Mississippi Supreme Court Declines to Rule on Non-Economic Damage Caps

On Aug. 23, the Mississippi Supreme Court declined to answer whether the state law that places a $1 million cap on non-economic damages in civil cases is constitutional.

Currently considering the appeal of a damage award against Sears Roebuck & Co., the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans asked the Mississippi high court for the opinion prior to taking up the appeal. A federal jury in 2008 determined Sears was liable for an injured motorist’s injuries, awarding $4 million in damages, but the jury did not itemize how much of the award was non-economic damages.

In an eight-to-one ruling, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Michael Randolph noted that the federal jury did not itemize the damage award, and the justices, he wrote, could not separate economic damages from non-economic damages, which are capped under Mississippi law.

The plaintiff and Sears agreed $2.2 million of the verdict was for non-economic damages. A federal judge reduced that portion of the damages to $1 million.

Upon hearing the damages appeal, the Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones sent the case to the Mississippi Supreme Court because the non-economic damage cap is “an important question of state law, determinative of the noneconomic damages issue in this case, for which there is no controlling precedent from the Supreme Court of Mississippi.”
In the majority’s opinion, Randolph wrote that “to answer a certified question which, if the case were directly appealed to this court, would not be reached under the facts presented.

The constitutionality of a statute is not to be addressed ‘abstractly, speculatively, or in the manner of an academic discussion, but rather in the context of its clear application.’”
According to Randolph’s majority opinion, the justices could not look into the minds of the federal jurors, but that the question could have been addressed if the federal trial judge had required the jury to break out the amount of non-economic damages from the total award.

Mississippi has had a non-economic damage cap since 2002, but has not been tested in front of the state’s high court.

MACM: Mississippi Doesn't Need More Medical Malpractice Tort Reform

side note: The below article is very interesting in the fact that Mississippi’s largest medical malpractice insurer, Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi (MACM), has gone on the record as saying the state does not need additional tort reforms. That’s right, a medical malpractice insurance company is saying no more tort reform is necessary.

Specifically, the article discusses the Texas “loser pays” tort reform passed earlier this year. Texas Gov. Rick Perry strengthened his state’s 2003 tort reforms by signing into law House Bill 274 (HB 274), a series of reforms intended to expedite the resolution of lawsuits and discourage plaintiffs from filing non-meritorious actions. The new law went into effect Sept. 1, 2011, and applies to all lawsuits filed after that date.

HB 274 allows a defendant to move for dismissal of a case before discovery is underway. While the rules governing such dismissal have yet to be written (the law tasks the Texas Supreme Court with developing them), the legislature has provided some guidance. The dismissal must be in response to a motion filed by a party, and in contrast to earlier rules requiring a defendant to allow “adequate time for discovery” before filing a no-evidence motion for summary judgment, now no evidence is needed for a motion to dismiss. Dismissal is warranted for cases “without basis in law or fact,” and the trial court must rule on the motion within 45 days. The decision on whether to file a pre-discovery motion to dismiss will be affected by provisions allowing the prevailing party in such a motion to recover costs and reasonable attorney fees from the losing party. Thus, if a plaintiff files a lawsuit without basis in law or fact, and the defendant obtains dismissal, the plaintiff must pay the defendant’s costs and reasonable attorney fees.

While Mississippi’s republican party is enthusiastically pushing for similar “loser pays” legislation in its state, Mississippi’s largest medical malpractice insurer, MACM, points to the 73-percent decrease in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits as a reason not to tinker with the state’s tort system. In fact, MACM president and CEO is quoted as saying, “Our rates have gone down dramatically,” and that “It would be hard for me to argue more tort reform is needed. We’re content with what we have.”

Canadian Business
When is the last time you heard a medical malpractice insurer say something like that?

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — On the campaign trail for president, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has bragged his state’s new “loser pays” law goes a long way to telling “trial lawyers to get out of your state.”

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Mississippi Med Mal Reform Works, Data Shows

Side Note: Who would have thought that tort reform would work in the state of Mississippi? We here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com would have. And, a new study out in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology (Aug 2011) proves it and we are happy to share it.

Data was reviewed from 1986 to 2010 from Medical Assurance Company of Mississippi (MACM), the largest physician liability insurer in Mississippi, and MACM-insured ob/gyns in particular. The data reviewed included many years prior to the new med mal legislation and many years after its implementation. The main reforms enacted included a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages, and a law requiring plaintiffs to sue in the county they were allegedly injured.

The data clearly showed that med mal lawsuits rose steadily until the reform was enacted (with a surge just prior to the laws going into effect, with last-minute cases being filed) and then significantly declined. In addition, the study also showed that Mississippi med mal insurance costs also went down. A similar pattern was seen: med mal insurance costs steadily rose until the reforms were enacted and then they significantly declined post-reform. Of course they did.

Are you a Mississippi physician who would like to lower your Mississippi med mal policy premiums? If so, contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote.

Malpractice Suits Plunge In Wake of Mississippi Tort Reforms
By Daniel Fisher
From: Forbes.com
Posted: Jul. 28 2011

Mississippi OB/GYN Holding BabyA new study of medical malpractice litigation in Mississippi suggests caps on pain and suffering awards and other reforms had a dramatic impact on lawsuits against doctors in that state.

The study in the current issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology is by Mark Behrens of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, the defense firm of choice for tobacco companies and manufacturers with serious toxic liability issues. No matter. Behren simply looks at the number of lawsuits filed against doctors insured by the Medical Assurance Co. of Mississippi, the state’s largest med-mal insurer, and comes up with convincing evidence that once the legislature made it harder to sue and win big bucks, lawyers responded by filing fewer suits.

The entire article can be found here.