Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska LLC

Florida Supreme Court Rules Medical Malpractice Caps Cannot Be Applied Retroactively

Ruling Protects Victims from Restrictions on Medical Malpractice Settlements


Wichita, KS -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/20/2015 --The Florida Supreme Court overruled the decision of a lower court that attempted to retroactively cap the medical malpractice settlement of Miami-area resident, Kimberly Ann Miles. Instead of receiving a retroactively capped settlement of $500,000 due to a 2003 law, Miles was awarded $1.45 million in non-economic damages. The ruling of the Florida Supreme Court sets a nationwide precedent that says the retroactive application of a statute does not apply to medical malpractice.

"The ruling in Miles's case is a victory for all victims of medical malpractice," says Bradley J. Prochaska, medical malpractice attorney at Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska LLC. "It holds legislators and physicians responsible for their actions, while allowing victims to receive fair compensation after suffering life-changing injuries."

In January of 2003, Miles became the victim of medical malpractice after Dr. Daniel Weingrad performed an unnecessary second surgery while treating her skin cancer. The surgery resulted in the permanent damage of Miles's leg. She was originally awarded $1.5 million in a 2006 case; however, Dr. Weingrad appealed the settlement after citing a law passed by then-Governor Jeb Bush. On September 15, 2003, Bush signed a law that limited medical malpractice settlements to $500,000.

Even though Miles's operation occurred seven months before the law was enacted, the Miami-Dade County appeals court sided with Dr. Weingrad. The case was then taken to the Florida Supreme Court in 2013. Two years later, the Florida Supreme Court denied the state law's attempt to retroactively cap Miles's settlement. They determined that the Third District Court of Appeal misunderstood the "retroactive application of a statute" when it is applied to medical malpractice. The Florida Supreme Court based their ruling on a 2009 Fourth District Court of Appeal decision in Raphael v. Shecter that says, "the cause of action in a medical malpractice case accrues at the time the malpractice incident occurs."

Bush's 2003 law that attempts to force caps on medical malpractice lawsuits was a way to keep the malpractice insurance payments of doctors as low as possible. The reasoning of legislators argued that high malpractice insurance costs were causing doctors to leave Florida. However, the 2003 law has faced considerable opposition ever since it was enacted. In addition to the recent overruling of Miles's case, the Florida Supreme Court also removed all medical malpractice caps in wrongful death cases in March of 2014.