Missouri's top judges questioned on Thursday whether a 2005 law limiting medical malpractice lawsuits is being wrongly applied to people retroactively and is discriminating against the spouses of those injured.
Attorneys for patients argued to the state Supreme Court that the law violates numerous provisions of the Missouri Constitution and that lawmakers had no rational basis to reduce the amount of money that people who had been harmed could win from medical providers.
The law was a priority of the Republican-led Legislature and then-Gov. Matt Blunt. They claimed "tort reform" was essential to curtail rising liability insurance premiums for doctors and to ensure that health care was available and affordable for Missouri residents.
A main change in the 2005 law lowered the cap for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases to a flat $350,000 per lawsuit. Missouri's previous limit of $579,000 had been adjusted annually for inflation and had been interpreted by courts to apply to multiple parties in a lawsuit.