New Mexico Supreme Court hears medical damages debate

November 7, 2019 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The legality of a New Mexico law limiting medical malpractice damages has been heard by the state Supreme Court

The argument was on whether the state Legislature exceeded its constitutional authority by imposing a $600,000 cap on compensatory damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday. The limit does not apply to medical costs.

The case involves Susan Siebert who alleges she was hospitalized for months after suffering injuries during a gynecological procedure in 2018. After a jury trial, Siebert won $2.6 million, but a judge denied a motion by defendants to limit the payout.


The case could shape the legal landscape for physicians accused of misconduct, officials said.

The cap interferes with a plaintiff’s right to a jury verdict, Siebert’s attorney Lisa Curtis said. Allowing for damages exceeding the cap also serves as a deterrent to misconduct.

“When you put a cap on death or catastrophic injury, you attract poor medical care,” Curtis said.

The cap cannot be stripped from the larger Medical Malpractice Act, which ensures physicians can find malpractice insurance and harmed patients can continue care, said Bennett Cooper, an attorney for defendants Rebecca Okun and Women’s Specialists of New Mexico.

The court did not issue a decision in the case Wednesday.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal,