Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Texas Caps Damages, Predictable Results Follow

According to Texas law, this man's pain and suffering is worth $250,000:

David Fritzgerald, 53, a former apartment maintenance worker, sued RHD Memorial Medical Center in Farmers Branch and several doctors after his treatment in 2003. Last week, jurors in a Dallas County district court found one of those physicians — infectious-disease specialist Meenakshi Prabhakar — negligent.


Fritzgerald was hospitalized in August 2003 for ulcer surgery and came down with an infection. Several doctors treated him and ordered an array of antibiotics. But they didn’t prescribe a drug that works on MRSA — a particularly stubborn type of staph infection.

By the time physicians realized that Fritzgerald had an MRSA infection, it was too late. He was transferred to another hospital for the amputation of his arms and legs.


The jury’s award: $6.72 million in economic damages, including money for Fritzgerald’s ongoing medical care; and $11 million for his pain and suffering.

That $11 million instantly plunged to $250,000, because of a state law that has restricted so-called noneconomic damages to that amount since 2003. Fritzgerald’s case marked one of the few instances in which the law has come into play.

In other words, whatever pain and suffering you experience, it's worth $250,000 max. But if it undermines (Democratic) trial attorneys and keeps costs down for insurers and businesses in the health care industry, it's all good.

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