Wis. Legislature Passes Medical Malpractice Cap Bill

November 9, 2005

The Wisconsin legislature passed Assembly Bill 766, which restores caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

“The recent Supreme Court ruling invalidating caps on non-economic damages was troubling and the legislature took the right step by passing A.B. 766 in an attempt to prevent a medical malpractice insurance crisis like those that have plagued other states,” said John Birkinbine, assistant vice president, Midwest Region of the American Insurers Association. “We strongly urge Gov. Doyle to sign this bill to help Wisconsin maintain its stable medical malpractice insurance market and the high level of access to care that consumers enjoy.”

A.B. 766 was introduced after Assembly Speaker Gard (R) appointed a medical malpractice legislative task force to address a July ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that invalidated the state’s caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The Court held the caps were unconstitutional on the grounds that they violated the equal protection guarantees of the state’s constitution.

The ruling was criticized by insurers, the medical community and legislative leaders.

A.B. 766 establishes a two-tiered cap on non-economic damages of $450,000 for adults and $550,000 for persons under 18. The previous $350,000 cap on non-economic damages, which was established in 1995, was indexed for inflation and stood at $445,775 at the time of the ruling in the case of Matthew Ferdon v. Wisconsin Patients Compensation Fund.

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