A CCL-authored amicus brief asks the Missouri Supreme Court to strike damage limitations enacted by the state legislature as a violation of the right to trial by jury. The brief was filed on behalf of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and the American Association for Justice.

    In 2011, CCL won a decision that struck the previous damage cap on jury-trial grounds. In the decision, Watts v. Lester E. Cox Med. Cntrs., the state supreme court held that a cap on a common-law cause of action invades the jury's province as the trier of facts, which includes the determination of compensatory damages. In response to that ruling, the Missouri General Assembly seized on the common-law cause of action analysis and enacted a "statutory cause of action" for medical malpractice. The new action, however, was identical to the old one, except for the institution of caps. 

     In the underlying action, the plaintiff alleged her physicians were negligent during childbirth and in post-partum care, requiring the mother to undergo multiple surgeries and suffer permanent injuries. The jury rendered a verdict for the plaintiff, but its assessment of $1 million in noneconomic damages was lowered by the trial court due to the cap.

     The amicus brief filed by CCL argues that Watts was correctly decided, that respected studies by independent academics demonstrate that the rationales behind damage caps are invalid, that merely codifying the common law does not transform a common-law cause of action into a statutory one, and that the jury-trial right applies to statutory causes of action that are analogous to ones that existed at common law. For those reasons, the Court should strike the new damages caps for the same reasons it struck the earlier version, the brief concludes.