As most are aware, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles recently ruled the medical malpractice cap unconstitutional. The decision will be reviewed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, a process that could take anywhere from three to twelve months. In the meantime, the cap is still applicable.
By comparison, the majority of states have some form of cap on noneconomic damages according to the National Conference of State Legislatures as of 2005. Louisiana is one of those states. Ten states cap nonecomomic damages for medical malpractice claims with caps ranging from $150,000 to $1 million. Twenty-two states have some form of cap on noneconomic damages, although not specifically limited to medical malpractice claims. Out of these 32 states, 11 also have a form of cap on punitive damages.
A minority of states either constitutionally prohibit limits on damage awards, have state supreme court decisions finding such caps unconstitutional, prohibit caps on damages by statute, or simply have no limitations. Whether Louisiana joins the minority of states depends on the ruling of the Louisiana Supreme Court. We will continue to monitor the proceedings with the Louisiana Supreme Court and report any future ruling as soon as it is available.