I’m having a hard time seeing the judge’s rationale here.
A Milwaukee woman who lost all four of her limbs as a result of medical malpractice should collect her entire $25.3 million jury verdict, a Milwaukee County circuit judge ruled in declaring a state-mandated $750,000 cap on medical malpractice court awards unconstitutional in her case.
“This is not a runaway verdict. It is certainly not outrageous, and no one could seriously argue that it is not in proportion to Mrs. Mayo’s injuries,” Judge Jeffrey Conen wrote referring to the July jury award to Ascaris Mayo, a 53-year mother of four who lost her limbs after a blood infection went undiagnosed.
The Milwaukee County jury award included $15 million for her pain and suffering and $1.5 million to her husband, Antonio Mayo, for loss of companionship. Conen’s order rejects a defense request that he cut the pain and suffering and loss of companionship awards from $16.5 million to $750,000. The remainder of the award is for economic damages, such as health care expenses, and is not affected by the cap.
Conen’s 21-page decision released late Friday applies only to the Mayo case and does not strike down the 2006 statute that created the $750,000 cap on noneconomic awards, for such things as pain and suffering.
“Although the cap may be constitutional as applied to medical malpractice victims as a whole, there is no rational justification for depriving Mrs. Mayo, who is in her mid-fifties, limbless and largely immobile, and Mr. Mayo” of the entire jury award, Conen wrote.
The judge’s decision seems completely arbitrary because he feels bad for this woman’s tragic circumstances. The law establishing the cap is absolute. Either it is constitutional or it is not. It is not up to a judge to waive it for individuals as he deems fit. I suspect that the judge’s ruling won’t survive appeal.