For decades Floridians have been prevented from collecting certain damages from medical malpractice claims. The situation came to a head earlier this month when the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal urged the state's Supreme Court to reevaluate a state law prohibiting adults from suing for non-economic damages when their parents die as a result of medical malpractice.
The case involved the adult children of Ramona Reyes. Reyes' children, Sandra Santiago and Norma Caceres, claim that their mother died as a result of medical malpractice, and sued physician Francisco Rodriguez for negligence. But a circuit court judge dismissed their case because a 2000 Supreme Court decision affirmed that adult children of those who died due to medical malpractice were barred from suing for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. The 2000 Supreme Court decision affirmed a Florida statute which instituted the prohibition.
The basis for the Florida statute was a supposed medical malpractice "crisis" that the state was undergoing at the time the statute was passed. But in 2014 and 2017 the Florida Supreme Court issued rulings which called into question the existence of such a crisis. In those cases, as CBS Miami reports, the court struck down caps on damages in medical malpractice suits.
It is with this backdrop that the state's 2nd District Court of Appeal certified a “question of great public importance” to the state Supreme Court.