Indiana Family Continues Fight Against Indiana Medical Malpractice Cap
An Evansville couple is keeping up a decade-long legal fight over their claims of medical malpractice in their daughter’s birth that left her a quadriplegic and unable to speak. A Vanderburgh County jury in 2013 awarded $15 million in damages to Crystal and Jamie Bobbitt in their lawsuit against a doctor and St. Mary’s Medical Center of Evansville. They’ve not yet received any of that money, and their attorneys are challenging the constitutionality of the state’s malpractice damage cap of $1.25 million.
Indiana’s malpractice damages cap was enacted in 1975, according to the Indiana State Medical Association. Under Indiana law, doctors are responsible for only the first $250,000 in damages to any patient for each act of malpractice, but no more than $750,000 total per year. The state’s Patient Compensation Fund pays any excess, up to $1 million.
The Indiana Legislature have recently taken notice and a compromise was reached with an effort to avoid a court ruling that the caps were unconstitutional. In early 2016, the legislature increased the caps effective July 1, 2017 to $1.65 million and then $1.8 million in July 2019. The Bobbitts agreed to dismiss their constitutional challenge presumably as a part of this compromise. But not all plaintiffs’ lawyers appear willing to accept this compromise and stand down. The Bobbitts continue their appeal.