Medical liability lawsuits pour in before Missouri's law changes

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 19, 2005

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Missouri courts were inundated with medical liability cases late last month, as attorneys scrambled to file lawsuits before the state's $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages took effect Aug. 29.

Many newspapers across the state reported more cases filed during the weeks leading up to the deadline than are usually filed in an entire month.

For example, the Kansas City area normally sees an average 330 medical liability filings per month. But through the first three weeks of August, it already had reported 983 filings. Jackson County on average sees 300 filings a month, but had more than 1,500 medical liability filings in August.

Cases filed before Aug. 29 will be reviewed under the old law, which included a $579,000 cap on noneconomic damages. Under the new law, the cap will not be adjusted for inflation, and plaintiffs will be limited to one award per defendant.

The dramatic rise in lawsuits was not surprising to the Missouri State Medical Assn., which has seen a similar pattern in other states that have enacted noneconomic damage caps.

"It's too bad we have to get over this hump to make it all work right," said Tom Holloway, the association's director of government relations.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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