San Jose Hospital Tries To Limit Patient’s Medical Malpractice Damage Recovery, Part 7 of 7

The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position as trial approaches. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties present such issues to the court.

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this medical malpractice/personal injury case and its proceedings.)

The Burgess court further remarked: We trust the ability of the trial courts to stringently enforce the limitations on damages in cases of this type through appropriate evidentiary rulings and jury instructions. (2 Cal.4th 1064 at 1085.) Thus, the Court expressed its faith in California’s trial courts to enforce MICRA. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

In short, assuming a plaintiff’s verdict in this action, he is entitled to a maximum recovery of no more than $250, 000 in general damages. (Civil Code, § 3333.2, subd.(b).) Assuming liability is found, each culpable defendant will be severally liable for h[is] allocated share of [plaintiff’s] noneconomic damages. (Marina Emergency Medical Group v. Superior Court (2000)84 Cal.App.4th 435, 441.) In this respect, there is no medical malpractice exception to Proposition 51 [Civil Code section 1431.2 (several liability of successive tortfeasors for non-economic damages)]. (Ibid.)

It is anticipated that plaintiff will raise the primary rights theory to support his claim of entitlement to $500,000 in general damages. An explication of that rule is found in Landerros v. Flood (1976) 17 Cal.3d 399. There, a minor sued a physician and hospital for malpractice, consisting of the failure to properly diacnose battered child syndrome and the violation of defendants’ statutory duty to report that diagnosis to the proper authorities.

The amended complaint purported to allege four ’causes of action,’ three seeking compensatory damages for personal injuries caused by defendants’ negligence … the fourth cause of action merely add[ed] a claim for punitive damages …. Defendants filed general demurrers which were sustained by the trial court as to the first and second causes of action with leave to amend, and as to the third and fourth causes of action without leave to amend. Plaintiff chose to stand on her complaint, and the court dismissed the entire action. (17 Cal.3d 399 at 405.)

The trial court’s order was reversed for reasons not pertinent to this discussion. However, as concerns the primary rights theory, the Supreme Court explained:

There remain for consideration plaintiff’s allegations that defendants violated Penal Code sections 11160, 1.161, and 11161.5 [] requiring doctors and hospitals to report certain injuries to the authorities. As noted at the outset, the complaint separately sets forth these violations as the second and third causes of action. In fact, plaintiff has only one cause of action because only one of her primary rights has been invaded her right to be free from bodily harm: There was one injury and one cause of action. A single tort can be the foundation for but one claim for damages. (17 Cal.3d 399 at 413, cit. omit., italics and holding added.)


Assuming the jury finds liability, under established case precedent, plaintiff is entitled to a maximum award of $250,000 in noneconomic damages.

For more information you are welcome to contact personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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