Florida Supreme Court assesses fee limits in birth injury case

The Florida Supreme Court is assessing a cerebral palsy lawsuit that has raised questions about whether there should be caps on attorney fees in birth injury cases.

The case involves a child diagnosed with a debilitating form of cerebral palsy that has left him wheelchair-bound and in need of constant care. The child’s mother alleged that errors in the administration of medication during her labor caused her son’s birth injury upon his delivery in 1997.

The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff in 2012. They found that the Lee Memorial Health System hospital staff’s delivery room negligence contributed to the child’s birth injury. The ruling set a precedent for the amount of money that public hospitals must pay out in medical malpractice cases.

Although the plaintiff was granted $15 million, only $200,000 was allowed under Florida’s sovereign immunity laws. The laws, in place for 50 years, protect the hospital from large judgments in exchange for serving the community’s neediest patients.

Florida senators subsequently signed a bill that required the hospital to pay the plaintiffs the full amount. However, Lee Memorial is denying the allegations of causing the birth injury despite the jury’s decision. The bill also restricted the fees that attorneys can collect for representing plaintiffs.

The 4th District Court of Appeal upheld the fee limit in July after the decision was questioned, but requested the Florida Supreme Court to examine the constitutionality of the limit.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.