California Supreme Court decision preserves MICRA cap

Last week, the California Supreme Court sent a clear message that it will not be accepting arguments on the constitutionality of MICRA’s non-economic damages cap at this time. This is very good news for CDA and other members of a statewide coalition that played a significant role in the November defeat of Proposition 46, an attempt to significantly increase the $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The California Supreme Court sent a case that had been pending prior to the election, challenging the constitutionality of the MICRA cap, back down to the appellate court. The case, Hughes v Pham, is a medical professional negligence case in which MICRA’s non-economic damages cap was applied. The plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of the cap but the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the cap as constitutional.

The plaintiff then petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court issued a "grant and hold" order on the petition pending its decision in Rashidi v Moser, a case with similar issues.

CDA participated in the coalition’s filing of an amicus (“friends of the court”) brief in both cases supporting the cap’s constitutionality. When the Supreme Court’s “grant and hold” order was issued in Hughes, the trial lawyers  proclaimed that the order meant that the Supreme Court was going to review the constitutionality of MICRA’s non-economic damages cap.

Last week’s order from the Supreme Court makes clear that that the trial lawyers were wrong. The constitutionality of MICRA’s non-economic damages cap remains intact.

For more information on how CDA members helped defeat Proposition 46, read this article from November.