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Ohio law caps medical malpractice damages

Members of an Ohio family can only receive a maximum malpractice award of $250,000 each following a botched transplant at the University of Toledo Medical Center due to a state law designed to limit economic harm to government-operated institutions. Had the incident occurred at a private medical facility, a lawsuit could have resulted in up to $1 million in noneconomic damages for each co-plaintifff.

The surgical mistake at the center of the case occurred after an Ohio man underwent surgery in order to donate his healthy kidney to his sister, who was suffering from serious renal disease. The sister's operation was abruptly canceled, however, when it was discovered that a nurse had thrown the kidney away before it could be transplanted, believing it to be medical waste. The woman successfully underwent transplant surgery three months later in a different state. UTMC helped pay for travel and lodging expenses, but is immune from lawsuit damages greater than $250,000 per family member.

According to a former state representative who was in office at the time of the 1987 statute's passage, the law was intended to protect Ohio's publicly-funded medical facilities from large awards that would negatively impact the universities with which they are associated. The former lawmaker asserted that the law does not index for inflation, though, making it much less beneficial to victims of medical malpractice or surgical errors than it would have been immediately after it was signed into law. "The problem with setting limits like that is you never change them," he explained.

The family's lawsuit seeks noneconomic damages for mental distress, pain and suffering, but the law will prohibit a court from awarding more than $250,000. The lawsuit also requests economic damages "in excess of $25,000." Other members of the family are filing separate claims, which could entitle each of them to $250,000 as well.

If you or a loved one have been injured due medical malpractice, contact an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney. You may have be entitled to financial compensation for such claims as pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages and other damages. Your attorney will work diligently to protect your rights and to get you the money you need and deserve.

The Blade, "Law limits kidney suit damages" Jim Provance, Aug. 03, 2013

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