California liability cap withstands legal threat

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 31, 2009

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California's landmark $250,000 noneconomic damages cap in medical liability cases survived its latest constitutional threat.

On Aug. 12, the state Supreme Court declined to disturb a May finding by the 5th District Court of Appeal that the award limit in the 1975 law did not violate plaintiffs' constitutional right to a jury trial. Appeals judges also rejected arguments that the cap's value had diminished in the three decades since it was passed.

The appeals court ruling in Van Buren v. Evans validated physicians' contentions that the state had a legitimate interest in limiting damages to contain doctors' insurance costs and avoid access-to-care shortages. The California Medical Assn. filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case supporting the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act.

The case marked the most recent challenge to MICRA in more than 20 years.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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