In a disappointing 109-page ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld that state’s longstanding cap on noneconomic damages in tort cases. The underlying case, Miller v. Johnson, involved a medical malpractice case in which the doctor-defendant, treating a young woman for cancer, removed the wrong ovary, necessitating removal of her remaining ovary and inducing menopause at a young age. The cap reduced the plaintiff’s damages from $750,000 to $250,000. The majority held that the cap did transgress the right to trial by jury as historically evaluated, but then justified the cap on the basis of a supposed quid pro quo that inured to plaintiffs’ benefit, adopting a stance that all parties to the case denied was appropriate. The decision provoked two strong dissents, one of which ended with the following statement: “this court has incorrectly and unnecessarily limited jury involvement and allowed a segment of unfairly burdened Kansans to drown while maintaining higher profits for insurance companies and lower expenses for doctors. Shame on us.”

The case was argued twice before the Kansas Supreme Court. CCL’s Robert Peck participated in the second argument in February 2011, and another CCL attorney participated in the first argument in October 2009. A report on the decision is available from the Kansas City Star.