Skip to content

Posts by Dean Nichols

Does the Cap on Non-Economic Damages for Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Actions Still Apply After Watts v. Cox, et al.?

One of the most monumental decisions in the medical malpractice world in Missouri was handed down by the Missouri Supreme Court in Deborah Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, et al., 376 S.W.3d 633 (Mo. 2012), on July 31, 2012. As most in the medical malpractice community are aware, the case held the cap on non-economic damages of $350,000 for medical malpractice actions found in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 538.210 unconstitutional. This cap had been in place and upheld by Missouri Courts since August 28, 2005. Given that the Watts case only addressed the constitutionality of the cap on non-economic damages in a personal injury case, the Court’s decision left the medical malpractice legal community attempting to determine whether or not the decision affected wrongful death cases. Given the language found in the Watts opinion focusing only on common law actions, and given the rationale used in upholding the cap in wrongful death cases decided prior to Watts, it is the opinion of this author that the wrongful death non-economic damages cap remains intact. Read more