In October of 2012, the Kansas Supreme Court resolved four constitutional questions and upheld the noneconomic damages cap of $250,000 in personal injury actions contained in K.S.A. § 60-19a02. In Miller v. Johnson, 289 P.3d 1098 (Kan. 2012), a patient brought a medical malpractice action against a physician who mistakenly removed patient's left ovary during a surgery intended to take the right ovary. After a jury trial, the District Court entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff but reduced the noneconomic damages award to $250,000. Both parties appealed.
The court determined, first, that the legislature had a valid public interest and substituted an adequate remedy in abridging plaintiff’s Kansas Constitutional right to a trial by jury, because the legislature mandated that health care providers maintain professional liability insurance. Second, that the legislature had a valid public interest and substituted an adequate remedy in abridging plaintiff’s Kansas Constitutional right to be made whole for economic and non-economic losses. Third, that the legislature had a rational basis for limiting the non-economic damages recovery of plaintiff and thus did not violate plaintiff’s Kansas Constitutional right to equal protection. Finally, that the legislature did not violate the separation of powers doctrine by limiting non-economic damages.
The full opinion may be found on the Kansas Supreme Court’s website here.