San Jose Man’s Noneconomic Damages Limited In Malpractice Lawsuit, Part 3 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.)

Thus, this is a singular action involving successive acts of alleged medical malpractice causing plaintiff to sustain injuries that are causally interrelated. Under current case precedent, while each injured plaintiff is entitled to seek noneconomic damages, the maximum recovery permitted in any single medical malpractice action is $250,000…” (Yates, supra, 194 Cal.App.3d 195 at 2), italics in opinion.)

A succinct summary of relevant California case precedent interpreting section 3333.2 is found in Colburn v. United States (1998) 45 F.Supp.2d 787. There, the United States District Court (Southern District) issued a detailed order after the United States moved for summary adjudication of various tort claims of the parents of twins who died shortly after birth at Balboa Naval Hospital. (Id. at 788-793.)

As relevant here, the court allowed the following claims to go forward: (1) Mrs. Colburn’s two wrongful death claims for the twins’ deaths based on medical malpractice in treating her prior to their birth (Colburn, supra, 45 F.Supp.2d 787 at 791-793); (2) Mrs. Colburn’s negligent infliction of emotion distress claim (NIED) as a direct victim of the hospital’s negligence (id. at 793); (3) Mr. Colburn’s claim for loss of consortium (id. at 794). Plaintiffs agreed to voluntarily dismiss Mr. Colburn’s NIED and wrongful death claims. (Colburn, supra, 45 F.Supp.2d 787 at 789-790.)

In its motion for summary adjudication, tha government specifically asked the court to confirm the applicability of MICRA’s limitation on noneconomic damages with respect to plaintiffs’ various claims arising from the hospital’s alleged malpractice. (Colburn, supra, 45 F.Supp.2d 787 at 789.) The district court framed the issue as follows:

The government contends that under MICRA, a single plaintiff can recover a maximum of $250,000 in noneconomic damages, regardless of the number of claims the plaintiff alleges. In opposition, plaintiffs argue that the $250,000 maximum for noneconomic damages applies to each individual claim. (Id. at 793.)

The district court concluded that, “with respect to each plaintiff, MICRA limits the aggregate maximum recovery for all noneconomic damages to $250,000 (Colburn, supra, 45 F.Supp.2d 787 at 794.) Its order rested on established California case precedent. (See Part 4 of 7.)

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

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