Wisconsin's cap on medical malpractice awards for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering is unconstitutional, a split state Supreme Court ruled today.
The court ruled 4-3 that the Legislature's rationale for implementing the caps on noneconomic damages was too broad and speculative, and ruled the law violated the Wisconsin Constitution's equal protection guarantees.
The court said its decision does not strike down all caps under Wisconsin law in medical malpractice cases. Rather, its decision applies only to those for noneconomic damages, awards meant to compensate for mental distress, loss of enjoyment of normal activity and loss of society and companionship.
Just last year, the court upheld a similar limit on wrongful death awards in medical malpractice cases.
In 1995, the state Legislature approved a $350,000 limit on noneconomic damages for medical practice awards. The law also included an annual inflation adjustment on the cap.