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Florida Caps in Malpractice Cases Ruled Unconstitutional

By BRENDAN FARRINGTON, Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Caps on how much money patients injured by a doctor's mistakes can receive were declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday, a decision that strikes down one of former Gov. Jeb Bush's major policy victories.

The court ruled that the caps placed into law in 2003 were arbitrary and there's no proof that they reduced malpractice insurance rates that lawmakers were attempting to contain. Even if they have, there's no present crisis to justify the caps. In a 4-3 decision, justices also said the caps unfairly hurt those most severely injured by doctors' mistakes.

"The caps on noneconomic damages ... arbitrarily reduce damage awards for plaintiffs who suffer the most drastic injuries," the court said.