House members pass medical malpractice bill capping pain and suffering damages
MDN Menu
MDN.ORG Mo. Digital News Missouri Digital News MDN.ORG: Mo. Digital News MDN.ORG: Missouri Digital News

House members pass medical malpractice bill capping pain and suffering damages

Date: March 5, 2014
By: Steven Anthony
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 1173 and the roll call.

JEFFERSON CITY - House Republicans Wednesday, March 5, passed a bill capping non-economic medical malpractice damages like pain and suffering at $350,000.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield.

He said the bill is necessary because the Missouri Supreme Court threw out the previous caps in 2012.

"To have our court throw out what was established as reasonable caps is essentially pouring salt on the wound in the medical community," Burlison said.

Burlison also said caps on pain and suffering damages are very helpful for different people and groups.

“Caps go a great deal to reducing the costs for not only the medical community, but for the patient,” Burlison said. “It also reduces the number of claims and also reduces the amount of defensive medicine.”

Rep. Jeff Grisamore, R-Jackson County, fiercely criticized insurance companies and said this bill was about profits.

"The name of the game is to minimize liability and maximize profits and doctors and victims are caught in the middle," Grisamore said.

He also called out his fellow Republicans for supporting, in his view, a bill that isn't pro-life, and asked them to think about the victims as their own children.

“I don’t want to see legitimate victims of medical malpractice and negligence, even if unintended, thrown under the bus of economic expediency,” Grisamore said. “And to place an arbitrary lifetime cap of $350,000 for non-economic damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfiguration, and loss of the capacity to enjoy life… Madame Speaker, it is immoral, and it is not pro-life, and it is not constitutional, or in keeping with our Bill of Rights.”

"We in this chamber who boast a pro-life supermajority should consider the fact and challenge that the mechanics of this bill does not value human life, but devalues it," he said.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 94-61, short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a likely veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Missouri Digital News is produced by Missouri Digital News, Inc. -- a non profit organization of current and former journalists.